Margaret Forsyth has been named Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic assistant coach, adding fuel to suspicions she was earmarked for a coaching role before stepping down from the board.
After five months on the board, Forsyth resigned one week before interviews were held for the head coach position. Australian Julie Fitzgerald has been appointed to that role.
The Magic are likely to present Forsyth's rapid promotion as part of a total management cleanout.
However, a lack of transparency and boardroom influence appear to have marred the process.
Magic board member and former test batsman John Parker, who recently led a campaign against New Zealand Cricket, and chairman John Wiltshire are understood to be key figures in the appointment process.
This year's assistant coach, Tanya Dearns, has effectively been sacked. While she is reluctant to comment publicly, Fairfax Media understands Dearns feels she is upset and has been marginalised.
"I really enjoyed working with [former head coach] Noeline [Taurua] and the team and am extremely disappointed to have been overlooked for a coaching position going forward," Dearns said in a statement today.
"It appears the WBOP Zone Board have decided to use the early resignation of Noeline Taurua as an opportunity to completely change the past coaching structures.
"Netball has always been my passion and now I no longer play, I want to contribute by pursuing a coaching career and I will continue to make this my focus."
Taurua's contract ends on August 30 and she was, therefore, also wary about what she says. But her disappointment at the interview process remains clear.
"Choices and decisions are always made. You hope they are done with integrity and honesty. Time will tell whether that has happened and they are the right choices," Taurua told Fairfax Media today.
"The Magic have stood steadfast to those strong values. That makes a difference when building a culture and a team."
Forsyth has minimal coaching experience. She has previously worked with the Waikato NPC team and recently took over coaching netball at St Paul's Collegiate School in Hamilton. It is understood her credentials did not meet the stipulations for the head coach position.
The fallout from this management cleanout could send the wrong message to the Magic's quartet of Silver Ferns. Irene van Dyk, Laura Langman – who was told by Parker she "only has a few years left in the sport" – Casey Kopua and Leana de Bruin may look harder at a move elsewhere.
Magic chief executive Tim Hamilton has refused to answer any questions relating to the interview process.
"I don't think getting into that scenario is very interesting," Hamilton told the Sunday Star-Times.
He would not comment on the timing of Forsyth's resignation from the board or if she had been promised a coaching role.
"I'm not answering that question," he said. "I wouldn't answer that question about anyone who was promised anything. The role and head coach position will be verified by the board."
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