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Gate City coach's supporters stage demonstration outside school board office

CLIFFORD JEFFERY • Mar 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM

People supporting former softball coach Hugh Godsey hold signs in Gate City Tuesday. Erica Yoon photo.


Supporters of former Gate City High School girls softball coach Hugh Godsey demonstrated outside the school board office Tuesday evening, a week after the Scott County Board of Education voted unanimously to end Godsey's softball coaching contract.

"It is an insubordination issue," said Superintendent Jim Scott.

Although the board does not have to issue a reason for a dismissal, Scott said it was brought up at the initial meeting that Godsey was being let go due to insubordination.

"We weren't there in regards to his character as a person," said Scott.

While about 60 people showed up at the special called meeting March 19 in support of Godsey, Scott said he has received numerous calls from parents who support the board's action.

It should not be a popularity contest anyway, Scott said. It is not a question of Godsey's coaching ability, but rather of his willingness to follow directions given by superiors.

An interim coach has taken over duties with the softball team. A permanent coach will be named later, Scott said.

Another dozen people attended Tuesday's BOE meeting to discuss Godsey's coaching contract.

"I was terminated from coaching softball by Mr. Scott for insubordination," Godsey told the board.

Several speakers said they believed Godsey was told to do things that were not in his power.

"To stop someone from coming on school property or come around the girls," said Godsey's brother, Ronnie Godsey.

"I did all I was instructed to do," said the former coach. "I was never told to keep (a parent) away from the girls, and I never had that kind of authority. He was treated and used no differently than any other parent. The only thing I am guilty of is standing up for my girls and maybe stepping on some toes along the way. You ripped my heart out last week. … It's like you took my own children away."

Players on the softball team spoke for Godsey both on March 19 and again on Tuesday.

"You all are sitting here like you don't care. Well it means a lot to us. All I'm going to say is please let him have his job back," said Tia Vermillion, a sophomore at Gate City High School.

Tia's father, Scott Vermillion, suggested that if Scott believed Godsey had been insubordinate, he could have suspended him or taken other action before firing him.

Scott said he did not have any other choices.

"We feel like we're fighting for what is right. They should have given a more in-depth reason other than ‘insubordination,'" said Tia's mother, Debbie Vermillion.

Debbie Vermillion helped organize a protest prior to the meeting that included picket signs reading "We love Coach Godsey," "We want our coach back," "Please be fair" and "Please do the right thing."

Robert Odle, a speaker at Tuesday's meeting, said Godsey deserved due process, and another solution could have been reached.

Jeff Hamilton, a BOE member in Scott County from 1986 through 1994, was more conciliatory. He suggested that the board could reinstate Godsey with a reprimand.

Godsey was also the Gate City High School girls basketball coach. Coaching positions for each year are voted on by the board over the summer, Scott said.

Godsey is a teacher at Weber City Elementary School.

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