Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Football coach fired over watermelon, ape-like celebrations

Academic Magnet is a public school in Charleston, where football coach Bud Walpole was dismissed by the Charleston County School District Monday night after an opposing team's parent contacted a Charleston County School Board member out of concern for Academic Magnet's postgame celebrations.

The complaint came after Academic Magnet beat Military Magnet 53-30 on Sept. 5

The Charleston Post and Courier reported that the school system investigated and found that the coach and some of his players would smash watermelons and have some players pick up parts of the fruit and eat them while making "ape-like noises."

The noises were offensive to black players on the Academic Magnet team and its opponents, according to the complaint.

Walpole has led the team to a 6-2 record in his 10th season, the second-best start in school history. There is an online petition signed by 1,400 people to keep Walpole in his job as coach. He will remain as a teacher. An interim coach will finish the season.

Walpole, according to the report, has received support from other area coaches. They include Military Magnet's Gene Ross, who said he did not see a "watermelon celebration" after the 53-30 loss.

"I never witnessed anything like that after our game," Ross told the Charleston newspaper. "I have never seen anything that I am reading about after any of our games with Academic Magnet. Bud Walpole is a gentleman, always first-class and gracious. It hurts me to know that all of this negative stuff has cost him his job as a football coach. I have never heard Bud make a disparaging remark about anyone in all of the years that I have known him. I hope this gets resolved soon."