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Two board members of the Magic netball franchise have resigned over the dumping of successful chief executive Sheryl Dawson.
Dawson had to reapply for the top job after a new governing body, the Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone, was established. She has been involved with the Magic since 2002.
The crucial role she played in guiding the franchise to become the first New Zealand team to win the transtasman ANZ Championship was rewarded with the Tauranga Excellence in Business Leadership Award for 2012. But she failed to make the final shortlist for the new role.
Board members Shirley Baker and Paula Thompson found it impossible to continue on after Dawson missed out to 43-year-old Aucklander Tim Hamilton.
"We don't understand how they came to this decision," Baker said.
"We just don't get it. The reaction we have got from all the netball centres of Harbourside, Rotorua, Whakatane, Katikati, Te Puke, Opotiki and Kawerau has been one of disbelief. And tears, everyone has shed tears over it.
"They feel vulnerable and are definitely worried about their futures. The ones I have talked to are struggling to express their feelings and are dumbfounded."
Thompson was also not happy with how the selection process evolved.
"I believe the selection was manifestly unfair. In my view Sheryl, given her competencies and attributes and experience, should have been in the final cut for the shortlist. For her to miss out was very unkind and that is the reason for my resignation.
"Netball NZ ran a recruitment process on behalf of the zone. Five people were shortlisted and interviewed by the zone board and we were told we had to fill in a sheet with our preferred candidates to go forward to the final shortlist. Sheryl was not in that cut. I found that extraordinary.
"I have worked with Sheryl extensively over the years and over that time have grown to have immense respect and admiration for her many qualities and she has an incredible passion for netball."
Board chairman John Wiltshire, a Hamilton-based sports lawyer, is disappointed that they have resigned over this issue.
"The process at board level was always clear and everyone understood and accepted how the process was going to be developed," he said.
"So their choosing to resign has been very disappointing indeed for me personally and I wish they hadn't."
Wiltshire made the final decision with Netball NZ chief executive Raelene Castle and Sport New Zealand's Auckland-based relationship manager, whose name Wiltshire was unable to recall.
"I can't really comment on why [Dawson] was passed over in terms of employment and privacy, but the board had a focus and a new sort of job description that Netball NZ had indicated that they wanted us to start out with.
"It was a clean slate and there were a number of very good candidates but we can only pick one really."
Dawson was overseas and unavailable for comment.
- By Peter White of the Bay of Plenty Times