WINNER — Longtime Winner High School football coach Dan Aaker resigned as coach, activities director and middle school principal on Wednesday.
The Winner Board of Education held a special meeting on Wednesday night to approve the resignation. Minutes of the special meeting indicate that the board met in executive session for nearly two hours before approving Aaker’s resignation and making interim appointments for the rest of the school year. Winner Superintendent Keven Morehart was unable to specify why the resignation took place, citing personnel reasons.
Aaker did not return calls requesting comment from the Mitchell Republic.
“I just know the board wished him the best and thanked him for his years of service,” Morehart said.
Brett Gardner takes over as the interim middle school principal and high school activities director. Trent Olson, who has been at Winner for over 18 years, has been named the interim head football coach and Austin Calhoon becomes an interim assistant football coach.
The Class 11B No. 1-ranked Warriors are 3-0 and host Wagner at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We really haven’t discussed it,” Morehart said when asked what Winner has been telling students and parents about the mid-season resignation. “I know coach Aaker talked to the team. Trent and his coaching staff have talked to his team. We try to answer the questions as best as possible, but we really can’t say too much.”
Aaker spent 18 seasons as Winner’s coach, guiding the Warriors to a 163-39 record and to four state championships in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2016. Winner also finished runner-up in Class 11A in 2008 and Class 11B in 2009.
A native of Bison, Winner is the only school at which Aaker has been a head football coach. He’s been Winner's activities director since 2010.
Aaker was named the South Dakota High School Coaches Association football coach of the year in 2015. Aaker was also a head coach at the 2018 South Dakota All-Star football game.
With the resignation, Aaker will no longer serve on the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors as its West River at-large representative, and his position was removed from the SDHSAA website on Thursday. He had been selected to the board in 2019 with a term set to run through 2024.
SDHSAA bylaws call for a Board of Directors seat to be forfeited once a member “loses the qualifications for which he or she was elected or appointed” and allow the position to be filled by appointment or have an election to fill the remainder of the West River at-large term.