One of the state’s most successful high school basketball coaches is apparently out of a job.
Lanier’s Thomas Billups told The Clarion-Ledger on Monday that he was not one of the candidates interviewed for the position that he says he was surprisingly removed from in early June.
Candidates were interviewed on Monday, but Billups says he was told by new Lanier principal Elbert Smith that he wouldn’t be interviewed.
Smith declined to comment when reached on the telephone Tuesday evening.
Jackson Public Schools athletic director Clinton Johnson declined to comment as well.
“We are leaving it up to the spokesperson of the school district,” said Johnson.
Sherwin Johnson, executive director of public and media relations for the school district, said “JPS doesn’t comment on personnel matters. That’s the statement we are sticking by.”
None of the school officials would confirm the position was open or if interviews were conducted, but several coaches have confirmed they were interviewed for the job on Monday, including Lanier girls coach Jonas James.
Billups has been retired from the school system for “four to five” years and was teaching two P.E. classes at Lanier each day as well as coaching at the basketball powerhouse.
He said he was told in early June that the school district didn’t want to bring back any retired teachers.
In order to get his job back, Billups said he decided to come out of retirement and was willing to teach full-time again.
“I even checked to make sure I had my teacher certification, CPR and everything,” said Billups. “I haven’t done anything wrong. They haven’t told me anything. The alumni, the community and booster club don’t want me to leave.”
Billups has coached at Lanier since 1991. He has led the Bulldogs to eight state championships and compiled a 617-130 record. He was named The Clarion-Ledger’s State Coach of the Year three times and Metro Coach of the Year six times.
“I have never been caught up in anything and I have been getting good evaluations since I have been there,” said Billups. “So I am just trying to figure out what the problem is.”