BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - There were a lot of unanswered questions after news that the Bessemer City High School football team may have to replace its entire coaching staff among other penalties due to Alabama High School Athletic Association violations.
Lynneice Washington, District Attorney for the Bessemer cut-off, responded to the allegations and punishment on Tuesday, saying she was “stunned” by the accusations and “disturbed” by the penalties given. You can read the full statement here.
Tuesday night, the Bessemer City School Board discussed some of the allegations at a meeting.
Before the meeting Tuesday, several parents and students held a peaceful protest outside. They voiced their concerns after the Bessemer City High School football team was placed on probation by the state for allegedly practicing outside of the season, which is against state athletic rules.
According to the district, the AHSAA says there will be no practices moving forward and that the team is on probation. Head coach Derone Fagan says the team did not practice illegally. Parents are upset. They want to know what happened.
"We do believe that the penalties that they have given us are stiffer than the alleged crime that they say we did. We are here for some understanding. We all are here to support. We want fairness for our team,” parent Rita Nalls said.
"I have a lot of high-character kids, great athletes on the football field that don’t deserve for someone to try to destroy what they have going on. They don’t’ deserve that,” Fagan said.
The board did go into executive session for over an hour to talk about the situation with the football program. Superintendent Dr. Keith Stewart did not answer questions afterward, only saying that a press release will be issued later this week.
Before the meeting, we got a press release from a public relations firm representing the school district that said the situation could lead to the entire coaching staff being fired. On Monday, Dr. Stewart said the initial report says the team was conditioning, but video evidence shows the team was practicing.
The press release quotes Dr. Stewart saying he is recommending the “non-renewal of all coaches involved in the aforementioned violations for the 2019-20 school year. Proof in the form of videos and pictures have been turned over to the AHSAA."
Dr. Stewart says the school contacted the AHSAA to report the practices and included some self-imposed sanctions, which included forfeiting 10 spring practices and their spring game against Oak Mountain.
The AHSAA rejected the self-imposed sanctions and, according to Stewart, issued the following penalties:
- No practices moving forward
- The football team is on probation
- Bessemer City High School was fined $300
- The school is not allowed to attend any team camps (Players can attend individual camps)
We’re told the AHSAA wants to issue even stiffer penalties.