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Op-Ed: Where was the due diligence?
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Rockdale's football coach out (April 28, 2012)


Rockdale County High School finds itself in quite the bind.

The school dismissed its previous football coach Michael Etheridge shortly after the 2011 season. They then went on an extensive search to find a replacement which took five months.

The process went through the 2011 high school playoffs, through the change of semesters and then lasted long enough for the hiring panel of a booster club parent, Craig Headgrove, Dr. Garrett Brundage, Michelle Glover, Kevin Rogers, Greg Brown and Rockdale Principal Georgi Nour reviewed almost 100 applicants.

Among those who applied, Columbia’s Mario Allen was selected as the Bulldogs’ new coach.

Fast forward around three months after his hiring and Allen has been relieved of his duties.

Several ethics issues and Georgia High School Association rule violations have come up leading to Allen’s termination.

GHSA bylaw violations such as recruiting issues and illegal practices surfaced from several witnesses. Among the things the Rockdale County Public School Board investigator discovered other than potential rule violations were also ethics violations including behavior of Allen and his staff around the students, supposed unapproved funding and supposed unapproved hiring.

One such allegation claimed that assistant coach Robert Bankston told investigators that he “could not work with coaches that did not respect the players.” It went on to say that in his “37 years of coaching he had not heard the language that was displayed with children.” Bankston has resigned from coaching.

Rockdale thought it did its homework and found its man; the fans and community thought it found its man.

RCHS needed to do more. The due diligence ran through during the first hire, while they thought it was enough, it fell short of finding someone to lead young men. Let’s face it — teenagers curse and speak of inappropriate situations, so to me that’s not much of a big deal. But it is not something that should be encouraged, strictly from a standpoint of being taught when to be respectful in the classroom, workplace and the world.

Along with that, rules need to be followed in general, but especially by those in management or supervisory positions. 

Those who hired Allen, I believe knew this before they offered him the job.

They just should have done a better job at sifting through the cloud that surrounds every job application, that the person is terrific and pure and talented and the greatest thing ever. 

Almost everyone who applies for a job appears to be an excellent candidate on paper. However, many of those people don’t get hired because their prospective employers do their homework and find someone who is the most qualified for the position.

I suggest that RCHS does the same.

 For the sake of Rockdale’s students and the community, try and find out if a principal trusts his coach before hiring him. See if there is any cloud of suspicion surrounding him before he gets an offer. 

RCHS, you need to bring in someone who can lead the Bulldogs the best way for the community and for the rule makers.

The school did the right thing in making a change when the rules violations were discovered. RCHS, please continue looking out for the students like you did this week and dig a little deeper.