By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
When longtime assistant coaches, and members of the Flying Eagles basketball hall of fame, Brian and Gene Nabors were replaced at Woodrow Wilson earlier this month, it came as a shock to many. But for Raleigh County Schools superintendent James Brown it was simply following the law.
“This is absolutely nothing personal with either Brian or Gene. They are great individuals and have done great jobs at Woodrow Wilson High School. They’re a part of that tradition, and this is in no way shape or form a reflection on them,” Brown said. “We’re simply bound by law to repost those positions. It’s unfortunate.”
Brown cited the WVSSAC Rule which states “The authorized certified coach may be contracted to coach only if an employed certified professional educator within the county has not applied for and accepted the coaching position. (6.4.3.).” Rule 6.4.4 states, “Coaching authorizations are for one year. They may be re-issued upon request if a certified professional educator within a county is not available.”
The question that’s been on the lips of a lot of Flying Eagles fans was also on that of the displaced former coach, Brian Nabors.
“I’ve coached in Beckley for 16 years,” Nabors said. “I don’t understand. Why is this an issue now?”
Nabors also lost his job as the PEAK instructor at the high school in the process.
As it turns out, the law has been on the books for some time, but rarely enforced.
“The reality is, this isn’t new to any school system in the state of West Virginia,” Brown said.
“I can’t speak for the past administration, but the law is very clear. I’ve been here since July 1, 2012 and we go through personnel action each year, which is what the law stipulates. And other superintendents (in West Virginia) have made it clear, 6.4.3. is good for one year. The school is required by law to post the position, and if a certified applicant applies, it is afforded to them.”
Which is exactly the situation for new assistant coach, Ronnie Olson.
“I spent some time talking to my wife about it when I heard the position was open and applied for it,” Olson said. “It’s an opportunity to work for one of the top basketball programs in the state and get more experience at the high school level.”
Olson previously was an assistant at Independence High School under Chad Perkins and was most recently head coach of two-time Raleigh County champion, Shady Spring Middle School.
Olson may be new to the Woodrow coaching ranks, but he’s no stranger to the game. Olson, who grew up in Florida, played for Woodrow Wilson until his senior year, when he transferred to Independence and helped lead the Patriots to the state championship game in 2000. Olson then spent a year at Ohio Valley before transferring to Bluefield State.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to coach alongside Coach (Ron) Kidd,” Olson said.
The question as to who will join Olson on the Woodrow bench is still up in the air. Brown confirmed that Raleigh County attendance officer Millard “Spanky” Francis had applied and interviewed for the position, but he has not been officially placed into the position at this time.
“He was on the last recommendation, but it was tabled,” Brown said. “There are some details that need to be discussed. So I sent it back to Woodrow Wilson principal Marsha Smith and the athletic department.”
Francis declined to comment on the situation, and Smith did not return phone calls for comment.
While Smith and a host of Woodrow administrators, including assistant principal Eric Dillon and athletic director Tim Carrico, were involved in the interview process, one person who was surprisingly not involved was Kidd, the program’s head coach.
Kidd, who previously served as an assistant coach for Dave Barksdale, stated that he was interviewed by Barksdale for the same assistant position years ago.
Carrico confirmed that Kidd was not involved in the interview process but declined to comment any further, except to confirm that Woodrow head football coach John H. Lilly was not involved in the interview process for his assistant coaches this season, either.
Brian Nabors, who has a degree in psychology from the University of Charleston, also noted that he is working on his teaching certification during the summer and hopes to complete it soon.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.