Director of Schools Don Odom has suspended both head coaches of the Smyrna and Riverdale girls basketball programs from their coaching duties for the remainder of the current school year and the entire 2015-2016 school year. Their potential for coaching after the 2015-2016 school year will be evaluated annually.
Riverdale's Cory Barrett and Smyrna's Shawn Middleton will not be permitted to affiliate with either team during the 2015-2016 school year or any other athletic programs with Rutherford County Schools. In addition, both men will not be eligible for the coach stipend pay during the 2015-2016 school year, which totals $8,393 each.
"Good athletic coaches possess skills that maximize the players' skills, strategize winning game plans, instill self-discipline, and impart the value of teamwork to reach a common goal. Players also learn skills that build integrity and character, primarily by how their coach models before them. In these last two areas, we failed last Saturday evening," Director Odom said.
Smyrna principal Rick Powell had already decided to remove Middleton as coach, but had not determined for what period of time. Odom said.
NewsRadio WGNS asked county schools spokesman James Evans if that affects other sports. His reply was neither coach will be permitted to coach or assistant any athletic program during the suspension period. Middleton is an assistant coach for Smyrna softball.
TSSAA sanctions for each coach's performance resulted in removal of both Riverdale High and Smyrna High teams from the regional tournament, probationary status during the 2015-2016 school year and a $1,500 fine for the athletic programs at each school.
"Rutherford County Schools apologizes to the Riverdale and Smyrna High basketball players and parents for the lack of leadership exhibited by two of our coaches last Saturday evening in the district consolation game," Director Odom said. "Players lost opportunities to compete in a regional tournament, lost opportunities for all-tournament status and to showcase their individual talents to collegiate scouts. We also apologize to the citizens of Rutherford County because of the embarrassment generated locally and nationally for teams motivated to throw a game."
Director Odom also referenced the school district's Code of Ethics for coaches, which states in part: "The coach must be aware that he or she occupies a position of great influence on the education of a student-athlete and therefore should never place the value of winning above the value of instilling the highest ideals of character. Coaches must uphold the honor and dignity of their position. In all contacts with student-athletes, officials, school administrators, competitors and the public, coaches shall set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct."