Football Coach Who Submitted Fiery Resignation Letter is Placed on Leave, Athlete Son Asks District for Exception

Last week, NBC 5 reported that the Cleburne head football coach submitted an explosive letter of resignation to the school district claiming a hostile work environment and bullying.

NBC 5 has now learned Jeff Merket has been banned from school grounds and school sponsored activities.

That’s a big problem, his athlete son says, because of a special event coming up in a few weeks at the school.

Braden Walthall will be speaking before the Cleburne ISD school board during the public comment period on Monday evening.

The 18-year-old left it all out on the field on Friday nights at Yellow Jacket Stadium known as ‘The Rock.’

The senior wide receiver is set to close out his high school football career with the signature every student athlete dreams of - signing day.

“Doing what I love and going to college,” said Walthall.

Signing Day at Cleburne High School is April 28.

Walthall wants his head coach to conduct the ceremony like he did for his teammates.

“Sit there and have pictures and watch me sign,” he said. “It’s going to be Austin College up in Sherman, Texas.”

Walthall wants Merket there because coach is also dad.

“Best dad I could’ve asked for,” he said.

But earlier this month, Merket announced he is stepping down as coach and assistant athletic director by turning in a fiery resignation letter to the school district claiming a hostile work environment. He said top officials used bullying, harassment and retaliation tactics against him and the success of the football program.

Almost immediately after submitting the letter to the superintendent, Merket was placed on paid administrative leave.

Merket is not allowed on school property or at any school functions, including signing day.

“That’s what I’ve been told,” said Walthall.

That has led the teen to write a letter of his own to the school district.

“All I want is to be treated like my teammates and have my head coach conduct my signing ceremony,” he read from the letter in his hands.

If Merket is not allowed, “I would not sign at Cleburne High School. I’d go somewhere else and do it independently,” he replied. “I mean, he’s my father and he’s my coach. I want him there.”

Walthall says if his dad is not allowed at his high school graduation ceremony, he won’t walk the stage either.

“It hurts. It’s very hard,” he said.

In order for Merket to be allowed on school grounds or events, he would have to get written permission from the school district.

Cleburne ISD’s spokeswoman said they cannot speak about any personnel issues.

The district did say that they have received 27 applications for the head football coaching position. Applications will be accepted until Friday.

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