SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The head football coach and several volunteer coaches at Islands High School are no longer part of the school’s football program.
Islands High Head Coach Robert Zoller will now dedicate his time to other teaching duties within the district. One assistant coach is no longer employed by the district, and four other volunteers are no longer involved.
Zoller was in his fifth season as the Sharks’ head coach and was only the second coach in program history.
This comes after the GHSA ruled the Sharks were in violation of eligibility and undue influence violations. The school’s appeal was denied last Tuesday.
The Sharks were forced to forfeit four wins over Metter, Southeast Bulloch, Calvary Day, and Beach and the school is being fined $3,750.
The following statement is from the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System:
"Based on a review of current information provided by the Georgia High Schools Association regarding Islands High School, the District has determined that changes in the coaching staff are warranted. Accordingly, Head Coach Robert Zoller has been reassigned to other teaching duties within the district. Additionally, one assistant coach is no longer serving the district in a coaching role.
Other coaching changes include four lay coaches who served at will. These individuals will no longer be serving in any capacity for the district.
Remaining coaching staff will continue with all scheduled games to include the assignment of interim coaches where necessary. All scheduled games will be played to finish out the season.
No further information will be released as it is a personnel matter."
The Sharks face Benedictine Thursday night. It’s the first game the Sharks are playing without Zoller.
The decision to make staffing changes mid-season is one that has parents of Islands players quite irked. The mother of a senior at the school calls it a knee jerk reaction by the school board. She says not enough thought was given to the kids on this program.
“Why now? We’ve already been stripped of the playoffs. We know we’re not going to do that. Why would you not let these next three games play out with everyone intact? That would’ve been the most thoughtful thing to do. Now they have no leader. They have no one leading them these next three games. No one to lead them through practices,” said Kristen Brown, a student’s mother.
She says one concern she has is with the rest of the senior class, like her son, who is hoping to play college football. She’s worried they might miss opportunities with college programs because Coach Zoller is no longer with the team.
About a month ago, Thursday night’s game was circled as one that could decide the region title, now a much bigger story surrounds the contest.
The team was off to the best start in program history when the GHSA sanctions were handed down. After beating Johnson, Islands is 2-5 overall and 2-3 in Region 3-AAA play.