Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster was speaking to a gathering of coaches and athletic directors Tuesday at the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association All-Sports Clinic.
“We can talk about the good, old days and the things people did 40 or 50 years ago, and some of those stories are real entertaining,” Royster said at the TD Convention Center.
“Don’t do that now. Like some other things, what some people did 40 or 50 years ago, at this point can only be entertaining stories.”
Times have changed, and the nature of the coaches clinic has changed as well. Where once it was all about X’s and O’s, now it’s supplemented with sessions that are just as topical for today’s coaches.
Royster, one of four superintendents speaking at this year’s clinic, joined attorney Tim Moore for a session called “Professional Benchmarks for Coaching.”
Moore, a football coach in the state for 15 years before practicing law for the past 25, delivered many of the same messages he had the previous two years when the topic was “How Not to Be Fired, Sued or Arrested.”
Since he spoke at the clinic last year, Moore said there had been 68 cases involving teachers/coaches that had been acted on by the state board of education.
“The No. 1 thing that gets teachers and coaches in trouble these days and has been for a long time is sexual relationships with students,” Moore said. “Don’t do it. It never works. There were 21 teachers/coaches who lost their licenses in South Carolina this year for activities along those lines.”
Royster pointed out there are three times when “you ought to put your hands on somebody.”
“One time would be in a congratulatory or sympathetic way,” he said, “providing comfort or congratulations in an appropriate way and you’re doing it in front of other people.
The second is you “put your hands on them to keep them from hurting themselves or somebody else,” he said, and the third is “to teach a specific technique.”
As for the others who came before the board, Moore said 17 lost their licenses for breach of contract, 10 for dishonesty, six were suspended indefinitely until paying back student loans, four were involved with drugs and alcohol and three had policy violations.
“A new one this year that I haven’t seen before, they revoked one and suspended six for intemperate behavior in the classroom,” Moore said. “That means yelling at kids, throwing chalk at kids, using profanity, just going off the deep end in the classroom.
“Now if the board is doing that in the classroom, they’ll very likely start to look at some of your — and I was just as bad as anybody else — behavior on the sidelines, or the court or wherever.”
Most, however, avoid these pitfalls, and Royster reminded coaches that they need to “always be building credit.”
“You need to be treating people correctly, where you’re always building a reputation for doing things the right way,” he said. “You’re building credit with your community, because unfortunately, people will be accused of doing things they didn’t do. That will help you if you ever find yourself in that situation.
“… The other time that helps you is when you go through a dry period when you may not be as successful as you’d like to be. If you’ve got good credit, you may be able to weather that dry period better than a person who doesn’t have that level of credit in the community.”