Murphy leaves Gunn, takes over girls' basketball team at SHP

After just one year as head coach of the Gunn girls' basketball program, Melanie Murphy is moving on. The move to her next job, however, is a short one.

Murphy is the new girls' head basketball coach at Sacred Heart Prep. She takes over for Ann Tafolla, who stepped down after guiding the Gators to a 13-13 season.

Murphy formally accepted SHP's offer Monday morning.

"We're very excited to have Melanie here directing the program," said Frank Rodriguez, SHP's athletic director.

Murphy was just 10-9 in her first season at Gunn, a campaign that saw the Titans earn the No. 1 seed in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs. Gunn reached the finals before dropping a 39-38 decision to No. 2 seed North Salinas.

The Titans went on to lose their NorCal opener.

"It has been an honor to work with Melanie, and watch her collegiate experience as a player (at Stanford) and her coaching proficiency, relayed to the athletes," said Jill Naylor, Gunn's athletic director. "She works hard to instill values and life lessons to the athletes in game situations and real-life scenarios. I wish her much success in life, on and off the court."

— Palo Alto Online Sports


Posted by Disappointed, a resident of another community
on May 6, 2014 at 8:58 am

If the Palo Alto school district want so cheap about paying their coaches, maybe some good coaches wouldn't feel compelled to go to private schools!

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

FYI - coaches' salaries at both Gunn and Paly are fixed stipends. The stipends are funded by the sports booster funds, not PAUSD funds. The school district stopped paying for athletic team staffing/equipment decades ago.

The booster funds receive revenue from athlete participation fees/donations and then parent donations, concessions, etc.

Unless a coach is also a teacher, it is very difficult to attract and hold onto great coaches. I wouldn't doubt that Coach Murphy will also have some sort of teaching job at SHP.

The other issue that you have alluded to (low pay) is a concern long-term. It is hard to find and keep coaches when they may only receive ~$3500 for the season...especially when they have to share that stipend with the rest of the staff (assistants and JV coaches as well). Do the math --- most coaches come in well-below minimum wage when you add up all the hours they put in.

The same concern also applies to qualified/competent HS officials.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on May 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm

A slight correction to Crescent Park Dad's post - PAUSD does pay for the coaches' stipends, but nothing else - league fees, uniforms, equipment, referees, transportation, etc., all come out of Booster money and other donations. Here's a link to the Gunn web site describing: Web Link

The change from participation fees to donations, mandated by the court case a couple years ago, has really hit Gunn hard, with a large drop off in funding.

Posted by matt, a resident of Atherton
on May 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Coach Mel leads my daughter's 4th grade AAU team. She's awesome! Great hire for SHP, bad day for Gunn.

Posted by Blameless, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 6, 2014 at 2:56 pm

The prestige and pay at SHP are quite a bit higher.....who can blame her for leaving Gunn?
[Portion removed.]

Posted by Titan Community Person, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Big loss for Gunn, Melanie is a terrific coach with lots of energy and good skils to match.

On the financing side, it bothers me a great deal that Gunn had four-million dollars to build that beautiful new gym, but not enough money to pay coaches realistic salaries to use it. And one is going up at Paly too. I know it is the difference between capital expenditures and ongoing personel, but that just shows a very unfortunate disconnect between what our community can provide.

Wonder what it would take to replace her. Will the JV coach move up?

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of another community
on May 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Crescent Park Dad,
As Fred pointed out, you are completely wrong about coach salary funding. PAUSD pays some of the worst stipends in the CCS. I'm a coach at Paly and have coached at other schools... I know this for a fact. It's absolutely ridiculous that PAUSD ADs expect to have great sports results and offer head Varsity coaches $2600 a season (and don't even offer Frosh coaches ANY money for most sports). Coaches play a HUGE role in student athlete's lives (can even have more influence than a teacher). Find a way to improve this situation or you'll continue to have good coaches leave.

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2014 at 1:03 pm

"Coaches play a HUGE role in student athlete's lives (can even have more influence than a teacher)."

I agree and it's surprising to hear that attracting and retaining coaches is not a priority.

The flip side of not attracting and retaining great people is that the students can be hurt by crappy coaches. Why does PAUSD risk that?

Maybe PIE should fund better coaching staff like it does Robotics or specialty programs.

Posted by Titan Community Person, a resident of South of Midtown
on May 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm


Do the PAUSD ADs really expect great sports results in terms of wins and losses? I have no experience interacting with the ADs.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on May 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

"PAUSD pays some of the worst stipends in the CCS"

@Disappointed - that's interesting to learn. Can you share what others pay? I'm not sure that it makes sense to invest in athletics or not, but it probably makes sense to be generally be in the same zone where similar schools are, like in most things.

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of another community
on May 9, 2014 at 11:02 am

Suffice it to say that with comparable years of experience, coaches in other districts are getting paid $1500-$2000 more per season. PAUSD is known throughout the coaching community as a very low pay district. We coaches don't do this for the money, but PAUSD shouldn't be taking advantage of that by undercutting stipends and not providing enough to cover all head coaches at all levels. Each year, after I pay for my own travel, supplies and after I pay my asst coaches, I usually am happy to break even.

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