June 11, 2009
Despite coaching the football and baseball teams at South Lamar High School to the state playoffs, Rusty Funk recently had his contract terminated.
The Lamar County School Board passed a resolution at a special meeting May 28 to terminate the contract of Funk, who was at the Class A school in Millport, Ala., for one season.
The South Lamar football advanced to the quarterfinals and finished 9-4, while the baseball team made it to the semifinals and finished 19-15.
Lamar County Superintendent of Education Jeff Newman was out of town Wednesday and couldn''t be reached for comment. South Lamar High Principal Ken Dawkins offered no insight into the situation.
"He''s no longer with us," Dawkins said. "I can''t talk about personnel situations involving non-tenured teachers. He was a non-tenured teacher who no longer has a spot here."
Funk lost his job even though approximately 200 citizens from the Millport and Kennedy area signed a resolution saying they supported him.
At the Lamar County Board of Education meeting May 28, nine South Lamar students presented a petition in defense of the coach.
One supporter of Funk was South Lamar Booster Club President Scott Cole, who didn''t attend the school board meeting.
Cole said he had no idea why Funk was relieved of his duties.
"I had no reason to be against coach Funk," Cole said. "I can''t speak to what happened. I really don''t know what happened.
"I didn''t have any problems with coach Funk. Like I told him, I''m as good a Monday morning quarterback as there is out there. I can turn around after the fact and say when you ran left we should have run right. But what''s that? You''re always going to have that."
Cole''s son, Russ, was a senior offensive and defensive lineman on the football team and catcher on the baseball team.
"I know Russ greatly enjoyed playing football for him," Cole said. "As far as Russ'' involvement, I think I can say he enjoyed his time playing for Coach Funk.
"As far as my own experience and Russ''s experience as a player for him, they were good. I think he''s a good man. I wish him the best."
There is speculation Sulligent assistant football and baseball coach Lane Wright would replace Funk, but Wright said he hasn''t applied for the job.
"I don''t think I''m qualified yet to be a head football coach," Wright said. "They want someone to be the head football coach and baseball coach."
Prior to taking over at South Lamar, Funk was last a head football coach at Columbus High School, coaching the Falcons to records of 4-7 in 2004 and 6-7 in 2005.
Funk enjoyed his most success as a head football coach at Stringer, coaching state championship teams in 1990, 1991, and 1992.