Principal Lacks Authority to Fire Coach - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/11/03

Principal Lacks Authority to Fire Coach

It's been a roller coaster ride for Statesboro Blue Devils fans over the past 24 hours. Last night, WTOC told you about the firing of popular head football coach Buzz Busby, just three days before Statesboro is to play at the Georgia Dome in the semifinals. But now the story's changed.

Busby left Statesboro High yesterday, thinking he'd coached his last game. He told us in an interview last night, "[The principal] said, 'Did you read the memo?' I said, 'Yes, I have read the memo, but I cannot go to that degree and follow it.' He said, 'Well, you're terminated.'"

In his fifth season with the Blue Devils, Busby said the dismissal was over his refusal to award a varsity letter to a player he'd kicked off the team.

"Sensible people can come up with sensible answers," said Blue Devils booster LA "Si" Waters. "I think what was done was done in a radical manner."

By morning, the score had been changed, according to counsel. "Coach Busby has not been terminated," said Busby's attorney, Laura Marsh. "Let me clarify that at this point, he is the athletic director, the head football coach, and a teacher at Statesboro High School."

According to school superintendent Dr. Jessie Strickland, the school's principal doesn't have the power to fire a coach without school board approval. "No one terminated him," she said. "So he's there and with the team and hopefully we can move beyond this."

On campus, a group of young men are trying to prepare for the biggest game of the year. It may be hard to forget about what was or wasn't said by two grown men behind closed doors.

"This should have waited, this should not have been addressed until after the Christmas break," said booster Paul Collins.

In a small town about to play in the big city one more time, "Blue Wednesday" is a day every wishes they could forget.

As if this evening, Coach Busby is back at practice with the team.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

 

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