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Students, parents protest coach's ouster

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By John Foster

A crowd declaring their support for an ousted Oldham County High School football coach wasn’t enough to sway administrators at the Oldham County Board of Education meeting Monday night. Several football players attended the meeting wearing “Rehire Coach Oldham” T-shirts. Sixteen players and parents pleaded with Superintendent Paul Upchurch to override or investigate Oldham County High School Principal Dave Weedman’s decision to allow former football coach Lonnie Oldham’s coaching contract to expire.Principals do not have to give a reason why they choose not to renew any coach’s contract. After the meeting, Upchurch and Weedman said they stand by their decision. Oldham did not attend the meeting, and he did not return phone calls for comment. Weedman did not renew Oldham’s coaching contract March 10. He and OCHS athletic director Matt Watkins made no further comments to the media regarding the situation due to possible legal issues. Weedman did say Oldham will keep his position as a special education teacher at the high school.Oldham coached the Colonels for three seasons. Documents obtained by The Oldham Era allege Oldham attempted to recruit a Spencer County football player to move to Oldham County and join his team last fall during a playoff game in Owensboro. In a document titled, “Spencer County High School Individual Statement” signed by Spencer County football player Chris Taylor, Taylor describes a conversation he allegedly had with Oldham. Taylor’s brother, Antonio Guy-Brown, plays for Oldham County. The two live with different families. According to the document, Taylor said he had fun messing around in the locker room with players and hanging out on the sidelines of the game. Taylor wrote in the document, dated March 6, “...Coach Oldham said I should come to Oldham to play. I told him I couldn’t miss my senior year. He said all I had to do was move in with my brother and they would take care of the rest...” Brown’s foster father, Kevin Campbell, said Tuesday Taylor went to the game with him and rode on the players’ bus. Campbell said Taylor also went to the locker room with him and shook Oldham’s hand, but the pair had no conversation other than a greeting. He said Taylor went to the sidelines for five to 10 minutes to warm his hands by a heater. When Campbell read a copy of the document to him, Taylor claimed he never even read it, just signed at the bottom.Campbell said Taylor did sign the document, but said the description of the trip to Owensboro is not Taylor’s handwriting. “Basically he signed the form and didn’t read it,” Campbell said Tuesday. The document also includes the names of Spencer County’s assistant football coach Wes Napper and athletic director Brian Higdon as witnesses. Monday night, parent Sue Cook said she believes an investigation into Oldham’s possible improprieties was not thorough, and urged Upchurch to investigate deeper. “A man’s reputation has been hurt and his livelihood has been taken away,” she said. Players spoke of the lessons in character Oldham taught them, and their high hopes for next season after this year’s run to the final eight in the state. Football player Kirk Yepko said he stands behind his coach’s character and the character he instilled in his players. "The lessons he taught us off the field will take us far in life,” Yepko said. Upchurch and Weedman did not have many words to say about the subject. Weedman said he is confident he made the right decision about Oldham’s contract. “It was not a decision that I made a snap judgment on,” he said. He said he is looking for a new head football coach as the season is just months away. Upchurch, who has the authority to veto Weedman’s decision, said the crowd of speakers at the meeting speaks volumes about how supportive the Oldham County community is, but their comments did not change his mind. He said the parents and players aren’t aware of all aspects of the situation and school officials have thoroughly investigated the situation. “I think Coach Weedman made a solid recommendation and I support it,” Upchurch said.

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jfoster@oldhamera.com