By Andrew Garda

After a period of silence from the Montclair School District, Montclair High School finally has a new Athletic Director.

At least for now.

The school district has tapped Mike Miello to fill in as interim Athletic Director and the transition has already begun.

Miello, who spent more than 40 years coaching high school and college football -- and who has served as an interim Athletic Director, Vice Principal and Principal at various schools since retiring as head coach of Hackensack in 2011 -- said that he began working last Wednesday, June 21.

Departing AD Jeff Gannon and administrative assistant Kim Covello have been working closely with the new interim Athletic Director since then.

“They’ve been walking me through the situation,” Miello said in a phone interview. “It’s been a very smooth transition so far and I can’t say enough about [Gannon]. He has been good in helping acclimate me to the office.”

While it seems like summer would be a slower time of transition, Miello has had to hit the ground running. On Tuesday, June 27, he, Gannon and Covello had to manage the process of paperwork and physicals for fall athletes.

“The biggest issue now is making sure all your fall athletes have met their requirements for physical examinations and obviously meet all requirements for academics,” Miello said. “Your schedules for the sports are pretty much done, so now you’re just confirming your officials for those sports. And then you want to tie together your facilities use.”

Once that is settled and the July 4th holiday is done, Miello plans to meet with all of the school’s coaching staff, especially the fall coaches. As it stands, Miello says the fall sports coaches are set. Once he has the season underway, the district will look at a few positions which could open in winter and spring and post any job openings.

Miello was also able to put some details on what has been a somewhat cloudy and confusing process behind the scenes for both athletes and parents.

Several weeks ago, Miello spoke with former MHS athletic director John Porcelli who mentioned the potential need for a temporary hand at the school. Porcelli has known Miello for a long time, dating back to when he was a head football coach and athletic director at Ramapo High School and Porcelli did the same jobs at Morristown High.  He wondered whether Miello might be interested in coming on board to lend a hand. 

"I know a lot of people, [since] I was an athletic director myself for 17 years,"  Porcelli said in a phone interview Wednesday. "So I reached out to a few people and Mike was one of the people I thought of."

Miello was interested, and Porcelli passed his name over to the interim superintendent Barbara Pinsak.

"I always had a lot of respect for Mike, I know he's a very good athletic director, I know he was a hard worker," Porcelli said. "So he had a lot of the characteristics he would need for a job like that. And the experience. I thought he would be a good fit."

It seems that Pinsak agreed, as Miello quickly went through the process.

“A few weeks ago, I met with the superintendent and they informed me that they were going in the direction of an interim athletic director at least through the summer,” Miello explained. “There would eventually be a posting for a full time position. So we had a chat and they offered me the position and I accepted.”

Miello said that, as of press time, there is no strict timeline for filling the athletic director vacancy full time. It could come after the summer, or could take longer.

The Montclair School District Superintendent’s Office did not respond to a request for clarification on the timeline, Miello’s hiring or any decisions on Gannon’s appeals before press time.

In Porcelli's mind, making sure that things went well regardless of how long it took to find a permanent replacement was of the utmost importance and why he felt Miello would be a good addition.

"Obviously, I would like to see that transition be smooth so that it doesn't hurt the athletic program," he said. "That was one of my concerns because the athletic program is something that is very important to Montclair and me being there for nine years prior before Jeff, I just wanted to make sure that things were done well."

With summer and summer practices here, Miello is excited to get to work and keep everything moving smoothly for MHS student-athletes.

“It’s great to stay involved in the educational field, particularly athletics,” he said. “It keeps you involved with many people you’ve known over the years and had relationships with. I enjoy it.”