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Jones out as Falcons coach after alleged profanity-laced tirade

Jeff Bobo • Sep 29, 2017 at 7:52 PM

CHURCH HILL — Apparently Volunteer High School football coach Barry Jones crossed a line from which he couldn’t return Thursday: an alleged profanity-laced locker room tirade against his players.

Jones tendered his resignation on Friday after meeting with school system administrators, hours before the 0-6 Falcons played Tennessee High.

Throughout his three-season tenure at Volunteer, repeated allegations have been made against Jones by players and parents regarding foul language, abusive behavior and bullying. Jones' behavior also has been blamed for chasing away star player Jake Salyer, who transferred to Cherokee and is playing for the Chiefs this season.

Hawkins County Board of Education Chairman Bob Larkins told the Times-News on Friday he's not familiar with the specifics of previous disciplinary actions against Jones. Larkins noted, however, that he knows Jones has been warned about foul language and abusive behavior more than once.

"I don't know if he lost his cool or lost his temper, but he used foul language that was outside the conduct of what we would allow," Larkins said. "We don't want any foul conduct out of our coaches. They’re supposed to be mentors and role models, and that's what we expect of them. Just like another teacher. We wouldn't expect that out of a teacher, but that's what transpired, and that's what brought us to this point."

Jones took over Volunteer’s program in January 2015 and amassed an overall record of 7-19. Following his 2-8 first season, the Falcons seemed to be heading in the right direction when they posted a 5-5 record in 2016.

But following Salyer’s transfer, the wheels fell off and Volunteer hasn't contended for a victory in 2017.

School board member Chris Christian, who represents the Church Hill area, said he has been receiving complaints about Jones over the past two years concerning the coach’s “foul language and a very demeaning attitude toward players, even for a coach."

Christian said he believes administrators were long overdue to take action against Jones.

"There have been allegations of bullying, which I referenced at a school board meeting at one time," Christian said. "On Thursday there was a 'happening,' let's call it, that was brought to my attention by a number of concerned parents of verbal abuse from the coach. Our administration investigated it today, and the coach was given the option to resign.

“From what the parents told me, a lot of foul language was used on our team in the locker room (Thursday). This isn't the first incident with this coach, and we lost one of our better players because of this coach."

Director of Schools Steve Starnes said Mike Castle will serve as interim coach for the final four games of the season.

"The position of head football coach at Volunteer High School will be filled through the normal job postings and interview process upon completion of the season," Starnes added.                                           

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