Troup County football coach relieved of duties, will return in January
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story stated Dustin Ward had been fired from the school district. The story has been corrected to reflect the letter indicated Ward was relieved of his coaching duties for the season, but remains employed with the system.
TROUP COUNTY, Ga. (WTVM) - A middle school football coach in West Georgia will return to work in January after being relieved of coaching duties by the Troup County Superintendent.
A video circulated on social media showing a player for Long Cane Middle School hit a table with a bat inside a Callaway Stadium locker room. Coach Dustin Ward was later relieved of his duties for the remainder of the 2022 season. The school system released a statement on Friday stating Ward would return to his coaching position in January.
“After further review concerning Dustin Ward, football coach at Long Cane Middle School, the Superintendent, Brian Shumate, has decided to uphold the decision to relieve Ward of his coaching duties until January 1, 2023. After that time, he can resume all normal coaching duties.” - Troup County School System statement
One LaGrange city councilman says the team was celebrating their win. The video shows one of the players using a bat to hit a trainer’s table that was spray painted with the word ‘family’ on it.
In the video, the coach and other players are seen chanting.
Following the incident, an official says a letter from Long Cane Middle School was sent to the player’s parents saying Dustin Ward, the school’s assistant football coach, would no longer be coaching this season.
“It’s extremely harsh. It’s excessive, and I think it’s vindictive. His efforts towards the children -- especially in middle school -- is far greater than a table.”
District 2 Councilman Nathan Gaskin says he believes the response was retaliation for a political comment made by one of Ward’s family members.
That person suggested all commissioners resign after a ballot error was recently discovered.
During a recent council meeting, Gaskin requested a thorough investigation into what happened but said he has not heard back about the start of the investigation.
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