ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Stand Up and Be a Man
by Brian North
6/29/06

I don't like gutless people. I don't like people who hide behind anonymity, privacy laws, and fake names on internet message boards. I am tired of irresponsible rumor spreading and hurtful accusations made by faceless people who refuse to be a man and stand up in the spotlight and make their claims for everyone to see and hear.

Chip Williams was the New Bern High School football coach for 15 years. He built a highly successful program that won three Eastern Regional Championships in four years. Chip not only ran a winning program, but from my perspective, he also ran a good program. He helped kids better themselves. Many received athletic scholarships to colleges, and many more learned the importance of academics and ultimately and went on to higher education and successful careers in many occupations. It even extended to his own family; both his sons went to ECU, and Bubba was even the long snapper for the Pirates in 2001. Some kids slipped through the cracks, but it wasn't because of lack of effort by Williams and his staff.

But Chip is no longer employed by New Bern High School. Williams was eligible for retirement this past year and he filed the necessary paper work to get the benefits from the state. His job as athletics director and football coach were opened up. Chip then reapplied for his jobs which is legal under state law (he had to stay inactive at the school for six months, but would have returned in time for the start of the school year, a practice done by many coaches around the state). The NBHS principal recommended Williams to the school board, but no action was taken. The board refused to accept the recommendation and asked Williams to withdraw his name from consideration. But no one will say why.

The school board hides behind the employee privacy laws. Vague rumors are rampant about improper conduct by Williams and why he was not hired back, but no one will go on the record. Anonymous letters were sent to the board with several of those allegations. No name attached, yet these letters were have said to have a big impact on the boards' inactivity in re-hiring Chip. Names of residents who are apparently opposed to Williams' return refuse to talk to the media or go on the record. There are rumors every where, but no one with enough guts to stand up and say why Chip should not return.

If Williams did something wrong, and it can be proved, I have no problem with him not returning. But I don't even know what the accusations are outside of the whispers you here, and most of those who spread such gossip don't give any concrete facts, just opinions.

Chip fought the system for a while and has more people in the community in his corner than not. But it was apparent he was not going to get any answers, and the board would never act on his recommendation, so he finally withdrew his name so the program he spent 15 years building could move on. Currently the school is way behind in fund raising, and the football team is in limbo and behind on summer workouts. The search for a new coach and athletics director has begun and someone should be named soon, but the damage has been done.

I feel the worst for the kids that Williams was helping mold. They never had a choice, and you hope they don't get lost in the shuffle. I am not talking about the kids with great parents, but the young men in desperate need of father figures and discipline.

If anyone who reads this is man enough to go on the record and give me some answers, I would love to hear from you. But don't call me with anonymous rumors, or post hearsay in a chat room. Be accountable. It's one of those traits we seem to be losing in our country, and I hate it.
 
Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com