March 12, 2013

Pool of talent for head position was deep

Chris Whitfield

— Murray County High School had 103 applicants for its head football coaching position, a high number for a program which has been one of the least successful in the state over the last four years. The board of education approved the hiring of Northwest Whitfield defensive coordinator Chad Brewer as the newest coach of the Indians on March 4.

Murray County Schools provided the list of applicants on Friday, four days after The Daily Citizen made a request for the information under the Georgia Open Records Act. Information regarding the three finalists and the members of the selection committee which interviewed potential coaches wasn’t provided to the paper until Monday.

Government agencies have three business days to provide information on open records requests or explain why the information won’t be released by citing specific portions of the law.

Murray County Schools Administrative Services Director Mike Tuck, who is the system’s designated Open Records Officer, initially denied The Daily Citizen’s request for information on the committee members involved in selecting the head coach from three finalists during a phone conversation Monday morning, saying he was “protecting their privacy.” Tuck was asked to provide a written response citing the reasons why and the law he was relying upon for denying the request. Under Georgia law, private citizens serving on committees which act on behalf of government agencies are not exempt from identification when an open records request is made. About 10 minutes after the request was made by The Daily Citizen for the list of committee members, Tuck emailed the list.

The committee of MCHS principal Gina Linder and her husband, MCHS athletic director Greg Linder, MCHS assistant principal and wrestling coach Chris Thornbury, Gladden Middle School assistant principal Nathan Ridley and longtime coach and former Murray County Schools superintendent Pete Adams narrowed the initial list of candidates down and conducted secondary interviews.

Three finalists — Brewer, former Jackson County head coach Billy Kirk and current Worth County head coach Scotty Ward — were brought in for further interviews and tours of the schools and facilities over the winter break in February.

The sheer volume of resumes submitted dwarfed those connected to recent similar area openings, and there was a large number of applicants with previous head coaching experience in the mix.

Last year when Southeast Whitfield fired coach David Crane, 17 people applied for the position before Valley Point football coach and athletic director Sean Gray was hired.

North Murray had 77 applicants before hiring David Gann to replace Larry Conelius.

Brewer was selected to replace John Hammond, who resigned after two seasons with a 2-18 record with both of those victories coming via forfeits. The program is 7-63 over the past seven seasons. For next year’s seniors, Brewer will be the school’s third football coach since they were freshmen.