While he counted himself out just a few weeks ago, suspended George Washington baseball coach Steve Mandl might just get to suit up once this season -- in the championship game Saturday.
Mandl’s court case has appeared to take a turn for the better for Mandl after Judge Shlomo Hagler asked the Board of Education to reinstate Mandl for Saturday’s Public Schools Athletic League title game, while Mandl would drop his lawsuit.
The two sides will have a settlement conference Tuesday at 11 a.m., at which someone with authority on behalf of the Board of Education will make a decision on allowing Mandl back, and if the Board of Education does not reinstate Mandl, the case will continue about the preliminary injunction.
“I think the judge really understands what’s going on and he wants to make a decision but wants to do it the right way,” Mandl said.
Mandl, who was suspended by the PSAL on Feb. 15 for allegedly violating the league’s recruiting policy, and his lawyer Milo Silberstein both thought it wasn’t likely Mandl would coach again after his temporary restraining order request was denied on May 18. His next court appearance wasn’t until Monday and Mandl needed the Trojans needed to advance to the PSAL final and the judge to rule in his favor to have any shot at returning.
The Trojans did their part, advancing to the final against Tottenville, and now Mandl will wait out the legal proceedings.
Hagler said he believes that the Board of Education reinstating Mandl for the one game would be a good resolution and show that sufficient punishment had been handed out as Mandl missed almost the entire season, while also showing mercy. He also said that it would be for the athletes who have reached the final and their needs trump any disciplinary action that is taken.
“That would be satisfactory to us and we made that plain to the court and we were hopeful to be able to resolve this today,” Silberstein said.
The two sides appeared in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday after Silberstein’s opposition to the Department of Education’s cross motion. A few weeks prior, the Department of Education had filed a cross motion to dismiss the case for failure to exhaust all administrative remedies, but Silberstein served opposition on Friday. The Department of Education’s attorney, Daniel Chiu, asked for more time to reply, but was told to bring his response Tuesday.
Chiu argued in court that Mandl had not exhausted all administrative remedies, stating that the United Federation of Teachers hadn’t formally requested arbitration, but Silberstein countered that Mandl had completed the Step 1 and Step 2 hearings and the UFT’s arbitration process isn’t a formal part of the administrative remedy.
“We will respond to the motion papers filed by Mr. Mandl as the Court directed this morning, and as we previously stated, the DOE's suspension of Mr. Mandl was entirely proper,” a New York City Department of Education spokeswoman said.
As it continues, Mandl said it feels like he’s jumping on a trampoline, as his emotions keep going up and down, but cracked some smiles following Monday’s court appearance.
The veteran coach said he has been optimistic throughout the litigation process, but after being “slapped down” time after time, he started thinking it wasn’t going to happen so he wouldn’t be disappointed. Now, it appears his chances of coaching in the title game have improved.
He’s proud of his team’s performance in his absence.
“As a team and players, I expected [the final],” Mandl said. “I’ve said this all along that I want them to not be thinking about this and play ball. But the fact that it’s still going on and they know about it and everybody knows about it, it makes it that more difficult.”