Head to www.news-record.com throughout the weekend for more up to the minute information and check out John Robinson’s Editor’s Blog for another spin on this Investigation.
more today from www.news-record.com on the changes occuring quickly at Northern Guilford High School:
No coaches have resigned or been released at this time, but the News and Record reporters state that are on-going investigations into the football, basketball and baseball programs at Northern.
The current update from news-record.com with Tom Keller and Robert Bell reporting:
GREENSBORO â€” Three employees at Northern Guilford High – including the principal and athletics director – have resigned Friday in the midst of a widening investigation into the school’s sports programs.
Principal Joe Yeager, athletics director Derrell Force and Louis Lawson, the head custodian at the school, resigned. The news came the same day the school system said it was looking into high school athletics eligibility issues.
Lawson is the father of Jacob Lawson, a prospect once ranked among the nation’s best middle school players, who showed up at Northern Guilford as a freshman in August 2007. At the time, Lawson’s family lived in Caswell County, which would have made Lawson ineligible to attend Northern.
A few days before the start of school, Yeager hired Louis Lawson’s as the school’s lead custodian. Children of parents who work at a Guilford County school can attend that school regardless of where they live.
Efforts to contact Yeager, Force and Lawson on Friday were unsuccessful.
â€œThis is an ongoing investigation, and it would be inappropriate to comment on the details at this time,â€ Superintendent Maurice â€œMoâ€ Green said on Friday. â€œI am confident that we will succeed at focusing Northern High School on achieving academic excellence in an environment that fosters our core values.â€
Pat Spicer, an instructional improvement officer for Guilford County Schools, will serve as the chief administrator for Northern. She told faculty at the end of Friday that Yeager had resigned.
â€œWeâ€™re committed to coming right back after spring break and making things just as easy for the kids as we can,â€ Spicer said.
Sharon Parks, a Northern physical education teacher and volleyball coach, will serve as interim athletics director.
School board member Amos Quick said the school system has been investigating Northern Guilford in recent weeks.
“There have been indications that perhaps the school system needs to question and get some clarification at Northern on some athletic issues,” Quick said.
A source within Northern Guilford’s athletic program said Friday that the school’s football, baseball and basketball programs are under investigation. The source asked not to be named because of the pending investigation.
On Thursday, head basketball coach Stan Kowalewski said: “I can tell you unequivocally that nothingâ€™s wrong with our (basketball) program and that I am fine.”
About Kowalewski’s employment status with Northern Guilford, the school system would only say that he “is a nonfaculty coach. Coaches are appointed season by season. The basketball season has concluded.”
In March, the News & Record published a story about the controversy surrounding the success of Northern Guilford’s basketball team, which went on to win the state 3-A championship. Some coaches and fans said Kowalewski used his connections with a local Amateur Athletic Union basketball program to aggressively funnel Guilford County’s best talent to his program.
Several players on Northern Guilford’s roster also play for the Greensboro-based North Carolina Gaters, the state’s largest AAU basketball program. Kowalewski is vice president of the Gaters and one of the program’s coaches. Kowalewski denied recruiting players or their parents to move into Northern’s school district, which would be a violation of N.C. High School Athletic Association rules.
Force told the News & Record last month that all but two of Northern Guilford’s players live within the school’s boundaries, a fact supported by a Guilford County Schools investigation last year stemming from similar complaints. Two players have received special assignment to attend Northern from the school system, he said.
Yeager told the News & Record then that Lawson was hired based on his experience. Lawson was a school custodian in Caswell County.
“Do people really think I would hire someone to take care of a $42 million school because his son can play basketball?” asked Yeager, who said he learned Lawson’s son was a basketball player during the job interview.
The Lawson family has since moved within the school’s boundaries, Yeager said.
News of Yeagerâ€™s sudden departure surprised Northern parent Barbara Farrell, whose daughter is a freshman. She said today she has known Yeager since he began meeting with parents two years before the school opened and was impressed with him.
â€œI think he had a great vision for the school, a great vision for the kids,â€ she said.
*****The jury is still out, but this could get messy before this is all over.*****