The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 12, 2013

Independence searching for football coach, again

By Cam Huffman
Register-Herald Sports Writer

BECKLEY — It’s been quite a spring for Independence football.

After longtime Patriots head coach Scotty Cuthbert announced he was retiring after 25 seasons on the sideline, the hunt was on to replace one of only three coaches the program had ever known.

On March 13, the Patriots found their man. Or so they thought.

After initially hiring Chuck Cooper to take over and rebuild the struggling program, the Independence administration is now faced with finding another new coach, just four months after hiring one.

Cooper was fired by the Raleigh County Board of Education on July 3, following a six-hour hearing over whether Cooper had exchanged inappropriate notes and text messages with an underage student.

As of July 5, the position for Independence’s head football coach, as well as the teaching position and assistant wrestling coach at Woodrow Wilson, which Cooper also held, were posted as available on the Board of Education’s website.

“The position was posted last Friday, and the posting will come down on July 15,” Raleigh County School’s Superintendent Dr. James Brown said in a phone interview. “Interviews will be conducted once all the applicants are screened, and we expect a recommendation by July 25.”

Brown stated that even though each candidate will be screened, the process will not be any more thorough than it was when Cooper was hired.

“There will be nothing extraordinarily different with the screening process,” Brown added. “We interview all applicants that are qualified and predominately, the application works. This was an unexpected turn of events with Mr. Cooper.”

Brown also stated that the new coach will be interviewed by a committee consisting of Independence principal Chris Perkins, assistant principal Rick Shupe, athletic director Rick Vass and member of the Board of Education.

Independence will begin the season on Aug. 30 against Midland Trail, with practices expected to begin on Aug. 5.

Independence assistant coaches Richard Meece, Mark Chuthbert and Scotty Cuthbert Jr. have been handling all of the offseason tasks in the absence of a head coach.

Cooper’s attorney, David Hart, has filed an appeal with the West Virginia Public Employees grievance board.

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