A longtime head football coach in Florida who was fired in April has been welcomed back to his former program, but with stipulations.
John Peacock, who led Venice (Fla.) to a state title in 2017, was reinstated Wednesday after being fired six weeks prior.
In April, Peacock was fired after an investigation of his social media profiles showed him liking an offensive Tweet aimed at a fellow high school coach.
In his 11 years at the helm, Peacock has won two regional titles and six district titles. While he has been brought back as head coach, Venice High principal Eric Jackson announced to the Bradenton Herald and other outlets that Peacock will have to undergo sensitivity training and is suspended for three weeks to start the 2018 season.
While Peacock’s “like” of the tweet may have been key to his initial dismissal, the Herald reports that there was more than just the single instance that caused friction between Peacock and school leadership. Among the issues that drove an initial wedge between Peacock and the school included his players contacting a North Port High player through social media (illegally), North Port coaches having the visiting offices filled with toilet paper and diapers, and six rules violations from the 2010 season that forced Venice to forfeit all nine of its victories and a district title.
Peacock was fired April 25 and, per the Herald, it was for a culmination of incidents dating back to 2009. The latest, the liking of the social media statement at Braden River High head coach Curt Bradley’s expense, caused Venice High officials to dismiss Peacock.
The 11-year coaching veteran was fired when he refused to resign from his position as coach following an incident when one of Peacock’s players wrote an offensive Tweet questioning whether an opposing coach wore spray tan. As the Herald reports, Bradley, who is multi-racial, took offense and penned a letter directed to Peacock, which was copied to school officials and media members.
Now, Jackson and the school district are welcoming Peacock back/
“Relieving Mr. Peacock from his duties as head coach of our varsity football program has been an extremely challenging situation for everyone involved,” Jackson wrote in a statement obtained by the Herald and other outlets. “There has never been any doubt that all parties are committed to and care deeply about Venice High School and its athletic programs. For the past 11 years as head coach, Mr. Peacock has led Venice High School to unsurpassed success on the football field. That level of success culminated in last year’s amazing state championship. Nonetheless, coaching at the high school level is not always about winning and the successes earned on the field of play. The off-the-field and off-season responsibilities and actions of a head coach are equally as important when representing an entire school community.”
“At the core, Mr. Peacock is an extremely dedicated and driven head coach. On one hand, his drive has brought tremendous success to our football program. On the other hand, this same drive has led to instances of poor decisions, embarrassment, and regret. Those instances cannot be taken away but must be learned from. Mr. Peacock’s recent demonstration of remorse and his willingness to be a more supportive and cooperative colleague to his coaching peers as well as to those he competes against is encouraging. He has stated that if given a second opportunity he will be deeply committed to carrying out these positive changes at school and in our community.
“As a school principal, I am privileged to work with an amazing staff of professional educators who help shape our students’ lives. My 25 years in education have taught me that no child is perfect and at times will misstep. We work with our students in a restorative manner to address a misstep or poor decision and help them learn from it. This philosophy can certainly also be applied to coaches, teachers, and administrators who serve our school. We all must continue to grow in our profession, learn from our mistakes to make them teachable moments, and push forward.
“As an educator, I believe we have a responsibility to provide Mr. Peacock with the assistance he needs to become as successful off the field as he has become on it. His words of remorse and willingness to correct his behaviors have influenced our decision to provide him with a second chance. Consequently, Mr. Peacock has received a three-week suspension that begins at the start of the season. Meanwhile, he will continue to complete sensitivity and social media training components that will support his professional growth as a leader of young men. He will also regularly meet with a peer mentor who will reinforce our core values. Our collective goal is for Mr. Peacock to establish greater collegiality and respect within our athletics department and to develop and maintain respectful relationships with the teams and coaching staffs against whom we compete.”
Venice went 14-1 in 2017, culminating with a Class 7A state title.