SANFORD, N.C. — Upset parents and students in Lee County want to know why a popular high school football coach was removed from his job without warning earlier this year.
They marched outside the Lee County School Board meeting Monday to protest the recent removal of football coach Charlie Groves. Since his removal last month, rumors and accusations have divided the community.
"Charlie is a fine man and is well respected, especially by these young men and we want to keep him," parent Mary Tatum said.
The impassioned pleas of supporters were only allowed outside the meeting. Once inside, the topic was not discussed since it is considered a personnel matter. A former teacher who brought up the topic was told he was out of order.
The school superintendent says Groves was reassigned because of a lack of community support, but several letters sent to the
allege a small group of powerful parents, including former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker, wanted Groves removed because their sons were not getting enough playing time.
"It's not that the public doesn't support the team, it's that there were 19 people who wanted him gone," football player James Alverson said.
"We feel like there was a small number of people who wanted Coach Groves removed and they had the political clout to make it happen," Tatum said.
Football player Quin Wicker, the son of the former lieutenant governor, disagrees.
"Saying that my dad got Coach Groves fired because of my lack of playing time is outrageous for the simple fact I played almost every minute of every game. I could not be happier with my playing time," he said.
Dennis Wicker strongly denies the allegation that his son's playing time was a factor in Groves' removal.
Groves still has a job, but is no longer the coach. He has until March 23 to appeal.