Updated: GHSA’s Phillips offers to retire amid legislative pressure

Article and photos courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution –> Original Article Here

GHSA_State_BBall_Finals_Day1_Snapshot-82-M-1Georgia High School Association executive director Gary Phillips is fighting for his job after the GHSA board of trustees voted 5-3 on Monday in Thomaston to recommend that he resign effective at the end of the school year.

Phillips’ fate will be decided by specially called meeting of the GHSA’s 66-member executive committee on Monday at the Thomaston-Upson County Civic Center to consider the recommendation.

Phillips declined to resign and said he would have no comment before Monday’s meeting.

The trustees’ vote coincides with Georgia HB415 and Georgia SB203, which propose to replace the GHSA with a new statewide governing body that would operate under the Department of Education. Phillips’ resignation might serve to appease bills’ authors.

‘’Obviously we don’t see the need in all this,” Phillips said Friday when asked about the bills. “We understand we’re not perfect and understand that there are some controversies within the body itself and rules that are made. … There’s always going to be some controversy here and there. That’s the way high school athletics unfortunately have evolved.’’

Board member Tommy Stringer of Loganville, who voted to support Phillips, said other board members expressed no real personal dissatisfaction with Phillips but said his removal would ensure the GHSA’s existence and independence. Stringer said his own vote rejected that concern.

”I don’t think the Georgia Legislature has any business dealing in Georgia High School Association affairs,” Stringer said.

Those voting to recommend that Phillips resign were board president Glenn White, Model High principal in Rome; Gary Long , Mill Creek High athletics director in Gwinnett County; Don Corr of Cherokee County schools; Jesse Crews of Charlton County High and Benjy Rogers, Bleckley County athletics director in Cochran.

Voting against were Stringer; Jim Finch, Mary Persons High principal in Forsyth; and Joe Lancaster of Jackson County. Vice president Lisa Moore Williams of Mableton and at-large trustee Wes Taylor of Valdosta did not attend.

The 10-member board includes seven representatives from each GHSA classification, a president, a vice-president and an at-large member.

Board president White could not be reached immediately for comment. Finch, who voted against the recommendation, was reached but declined comment except to say he was reserving judgment for now.

Many of the GHSA’s decisions during Phillips’ tenure have been controversial, which is not unusual for any executive director.

Buford and especially Jefferson were unhappy at the process and appeals procedures that led to those city schools being placed in higher classifications this academic year while most other city schools were unaffected.

Cartersville, a home school of bill-author Bruce Thornton (R-White), scrapped with Phillips in the spring of 2015 over a baseball decision. A playoff double-header between Cartersville and Wayne County was rained out, and Phillips ruled that it must be completed the next day, forcing Cartersville to return immediately to Jesup, rather than giving it more time.

Phillips’ decision to enforce the GHSA’s bylaws and keep Wheeler’s boys basketball from participating in a post-season tournament in New York two years ago also caused a public outcry. Phillips changed course and gave special permission once legal action was threatened.

The GHSA also got a black eye during the 2016 state basketball finals when it was discovered that the baskets at the Macon Coliseum had been positioned incorrectly, about a foot too close to the baseline. Phillips elected to play on and not correct the mistake mid-event, which would’ve caused games to be delayed or postponed.

Phillips is only the fifth GHSA executive director since 1946, but he would be the first to be forced out. Phillips succeeded Ralph Swearngin, who served from 2001 to 2014.

Phillips assumed the directorship on July 1, 2014. His contracted was renewed a year later through 2017-18.

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The Republicans in our Legislature can’t get enough government when it comes to education. They want the state to take over failing schools, they provide back-door vouchers in the form of tax credits for private school scholarships, and now they want the state to take over GHSA. They are a bunch of power-hungry RINOs led by Earl Ehrhart, and they don’t know the first thing about small government conservatism.



How about disband the GHSA totally! There a Do Nothing organization….



@UnbiasedObserver Pretty ignorant comment. GHSA actually does a heck of a lot. Many people who follow high school athletics, as well as the legislators leading this effort, would argue that they do too much.



But, but, but … I thought Republicans were for less government? They are the most hypocritical people on the planet. “Government can’t get anything right ….. except when something doesn’t go our way!” Coach Phillips is a good man. Leave him alone. Perhaps one of his old high school players, everyone’s favorite black Republican, Herschel Walker, can bail him out.

Salsa Dr.

Salsa Dr.5pts

You could not add enough zeros to my check to get me to take that job. Truly thankless.



Only “leaders” with zero vision or actual leadership cling to regulations and bylaws as if they are set in stone. Good riddance.



@Manman Your observation is correct, and it holds true for “leaders” in organizations beyond athletics and education

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