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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Havoc in Hoover (Cont.)

The biggest story in the Birmingham area, by far, remains the resignation of Hoover High School football coach Rush Propst and the surrounding controversy involving academic, financial, and personal impropriety.

We noted earlier that the Hoover High story has special resonance here at Legal Schnauzer. So let's keep up with the latest:

* Fallout from the investigation is far from over. School Board president Sandra Frazier said more personnel decisions could be coming in the wake of retired judge Samuel Pointer's inquiry. The school system will not be able to truly move forward until those decisions, and a pending lawsuit by former Hoover High School principal Richard Bishop, are dealt with, Frazier says. Communities around the state are feeling the effects of the Hoover story. The Alabama Ethics Commission has received 12 to 15 inquiries from coaches and school boards about mandatory income reports. Former superintendent Connie Williams weighed in, saying she is disappointed that Propst still seems to be blaming others for the mess. "I find it unfortunate that obviously there are people in Hoover who still believe so much of what he says," Williams said.

* Names of possible candidates to replace Propst are beginning to surface. Those include Josh Niblett of Oxford, Bill Clark of Prattville, and Todd Watson of Foley. Ironically, Niblett and Clark recently have had issues connected to ineligible players and ethics forms, two matters that helped get Propst in hot water. People close to the situation say Hoover High still is considered one of the elite jobs in the state (and the nation), and the program is not likely to struggle on the field for long--if at all. "They're not going to let it fail," Birmingham-Southern College coach Joey Jones said. "But it's going to take a (head coach) to come in there and put it together." One problem is that high school does not have a permanent principal in place, so it is unclear who will lead the search for a new coach. One school board member suggested interim principal Ken Jarnigan lead the search, with the help of a committee made up of three parents (one representing freshman, sophomore, and junior classes), one teacher, and the athletics director.

* Speaking of Joey Jones, would he be a candidate? He's getting a Division III (non-scholarship) program off the ground at Birmingham-Southern and left Mountain Brook High School after 10 years for the challenge of the college game. But would he find the Hoover job enticing enough to return to the high-school level? Could Hoover pay Jones more than Birmingham-Southern is paying him? (My guess? Yes.) It would be hard to find a coach with a better reputation, in terms of both coaching ability and community-building skills.

* Birmingham News sports columnist Ray Melick says Hoover should go with someone who is familiar with the type of system that Propst used so successfully with the Bucs. That would mean a wide-open, spread-the-field, shotgun type of offense. Niblett, Watson, and Clark all fit that mold. Melick also threw out the name of Spain Park High School assistant Perry Swindall, who used a wide-open attack to build a powerhouse at Russellville High School.

* A number of Hooverites have expressed dismay about the conditions of Propst's exit--that he will stay in the school system until his resignation takes effect in August 2008, and he will leave with a generous financial settlement in hand. Some have said his transgressions were serious enough, and embarrassing enough to the city, that he should have been dismissed immediately, with no financial settlement. The Alabama Education Association and state tenure laws are to thank for Propst's exit package, says Tom Arenberg, sports editor of The Birmingham News.

* As for my personal connection to the Hoover High story, we will return to that very soon. This blog started as a result of my experiences with judicial corruption in Alabama's state courts. And those experiences started because of a fraudulent lawsuit filed against me by a troublesome neighbor (with a criminal history) over a property-related matter. And that lawsuit started mainly because my Neighbor From Hell managed to find a Lawyer From Hell (with a lengthy history of ethical problems with the Alabama State Bar), who had no problem filing a claim that had no basis in fact or law. And that lawsuit became a serious problem only because of a corrupt judge in Shelby County, who repeatedly made unlawful rulings that caused the case to drag on for about five years, costing me and Alabama taxpayers thousands of dollars. And I have long suspected that the judge acted corruptly because of his connections--and those of the Lawyer From Hell--to a certain suburban private Birmingham school that has become quite the football power over the past 10 years or so. And curiously, an odd real-estate transaction was taking place involving said private school's football coach in December 1998, which is exactly the time Hoover's last coaching search was heating up. And that odd real-estate transaction with the private-school's coach led directly to huge legal headaches for your humble blogger. It's a story that mixes three Southern passions--politics, religion, and football. So stay tuned.

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