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The Campanile

Nelson Gifford fired from post as Athletic Director, resigns as head football coach


Nelson Gifford resigned as head football coach Tuesday, after being let go from his position as athletic director last Thursday.

Gifford, who joined Paly’s coaching staff in 2018, led the football team through four seasons with a record of 24-16. After serving the last three years as athletic director, Gifford will continue working at Paly as a special education teacher.

The district has begun the recruiting and hiring process for the positions of Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, according to an email from Assistant Principal LaDonna Butler. 

“We would like to thank Nelson Gifford, who has served in both positions, for the contributions he has made to Palo Alto High School, the athletics program and students,” Butler said in her email.

The Sports Student Association, which works directly with the athletic director and gives input on budgets, funding and school climate, had not been notified of Gifford’s removal or resignation until contacted by a Campanile reporter. 

A student on the PSSA who asked that their name not be used because they work closely with Gifford said they were shocked to hear of the news but had questioned the ethics of having the head football coach also act as the athletic director.

“There was always a thought in the back of our minds wondering if  his decisions were affected by his other position,” the student said. “I think there were a few different instances where we questioned some decisions he made in regards to funding for certain sports, as well as football gear.”

The student said Gifford often listened to and acted on the input and advice given by students on the PSSA and had goals which were shared by the majority of the students.

“When it came to our ideas about social media and the messages our platform was communicating, he listened to us a lot,” the student said. “He was very passionate about bringing all the teams to the same level of funding and support as the football team.”


More to follow in our Spotlight feature Friday.

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