Rush Propst

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Rush Propst
Current position
TitleFormer Head coach
TeamColquitt County High School (GA)
Biographical details
BornDecember 1957 (age 61)
Ohatchee, Alabama
Playing career
1977-1978Jacksonville State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1989–1993Ashville (AL) H.S.
1994–1996Eufaula (AL) H.S.
1997Alba (AL) H.S.
1998Alma Bryant (AL) H.S.
1999–2007Hoover (AL) H.S.
2008–2018Colquitt County (GA) H.S.
Head coaching record
Overall299-92 (.765)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
  • 5 AHSAA Class 6A Championships (2000, 2002-2005)
  • 2 GHSA Class 6A Championships (2014-2015)
  • 2015 National championship

Thomas Rush Propst (born December 1957) is a former football head coach of Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Georgia, and Hoover High School in Hoover, Alabama. Propst gained national notoriety through the MTV series Two-A-Days, which chronicled the 2005 and 2006 seasons of his Hoover team.

He has helped over 125 players receive college scholarships, including players such as Chad Jackson (Florida), John Parker Wilson (Alabama), Ryan Pugh (Auburn) and Cornelius Williams (Troy). At the conclusion of the 2017 season, his 29-year head coaching record stood at 299-92 (.765 win percentage).

Personal life[edit]

Propst is a native of Ohatchee, Alabama where he graduated from Ohatchee High School in 1976. Propst played high school football for Coach Ragan Clark, whose son Bill was later the head coach at Prattville High School, a Hoover rival, for many years. Ohatchee was 27-5-1 in Propst's three years as a starter at wide receiver and defensive back, with Propst earning All-County recognition as a senior. In addition to football, he was a two-year starter on the basketball team and even though Ohatchee did not have a track program, he checked out of school one afternoon and won the District 100-yard dash his senior year.

Propst attended college at Jacksonville State University where he was a non-scholarship member of the JSU football team in 1976-1977. He graduated from Jacksonville State in 1981 with a degree in Physical Education. In 1990, he married Tammy Cox, his high school sweetheart, with whom he had three children. Propst divorced Tammy in 2008 and married his current wife, Stefnie, with whom he has four children.[1][2]

Coaching career[edit]

Propst took his first coaching position as a student assistant at Ohatchee in 1977, the year they won their only state championship. His brother, Philip was a star on that team. He also served as an assistant coach for eight years at Cleburne County High School in Heflin, Alabama, Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia, and Ashville High School in Ashville, Alabama. Propst was eventually promoted to head football coach at Ashville High, serving from 1989 to 1993. He then moved on to Eufaula High School in Eufaula, Alabama from 1994-1996 before being hired by Alba High School in Bayou La Batre, Alabama in 1997. In 1998, Propst coached Alma Bryant High School, the school that resulted from Alba's merger with the high school in Grand Bay, Alabama. At Alma Bryant High School he amassed a 12–2 record.

He was hired at Hoover in 1999, where he coached for nine years, winning 110 games and five state championships. Propst's Hoover team was one of the top-ranked teams in the United States over much of the first decade of the new millennium, winning Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 6A state championships in five of the first six seasons including four consecutive titles from 2002 to 2005 (missing out on 7 straight after losses in the championship game to Daphne in 2001 and Prattville in 2006).[3] During Propst's tenure, Hoover was repeatedly ranked in the nation's top-25 polls, finishing as the #16 team in the nation in 2003,[4] #4 in the nation in 2004,[5] #8 in the nation in 2005,[6] and ranked #1 entering the 2006 season by Sports Illustrated, USA Today[7] and the National Prep Football Poll.[8] Propst's base salary at Hoover was $100,678.[9]

On January 30, 2008, Propst was named head coach at Colquitt County High School.[9] When Les Koenning left the University of South Alabama in January 2009, head coach Joey Jones interviewed Propst to fill the vacant position as the offensive coordinator.[10] After community uproar over the interview, Propst decided to stay at Colquitt County.[11]

In just his second year of coaching at Colquitt County, Propst took a team that had finished 2-8 in 2007 to an 11-3 season and the state semifinals in 2009.[12][13] In 2010, he led Colquitt County to the GHSA Class 5A State Championship Game.[14] In 2011, Colquitt finished 11-3 after losing 35-31 to the eventual state champions, Grayson High School, in the state semifinal game.[15] In 2012, Colquitt finished 10-4 after losing 41-27 to the eventual state champions, Norcross High School, in the state semifinal game.[16][17] In 2013, Colquitt finished 11-3 after losing 14-9 to the eventual state champions, Norcross High School, in the state semifinal game.[18][19] In 2014, Rush Propst led his Colquitt County Packer football team to their second undefeated season (15-0) and a second state title (first one came in 1994), by defeating Archer High School 28-24 on December 13, 2014 to claim the 2014 1-AAAAAA State Championship and his first state title within Georgia. In 2015, Colquitt County completed another 15-0 season with a 30-13 victory over the Roswell Hornets to claim their second consecutive Georgia AAAAAA State Championship.

Controversy[edit]

During his tenure at Hoover, Propst was a frequent target of critics. But in June 2007, the criticism became more vocal and more formal when HHS athletic director Jerry Browning, Propst's immediate superior, resigned over numerous differences between himself and principal Richard Bishop, who was a teammate of Propst on the football team at Jacksonville State University. Browning expressed concerns over reports that grades for certain athletes had been altered to make them eligible for college play, and made those concerns known to Hoover City Schools Superintendent Andy Craig in a meeting in April.[20] Bishop originally announced that there was nothing to be concerned about, but Craig overruled Bishop and announced that a full investigation would be carried out, to be headed by former federal judge Sam C. Pointer, Jr.[21][22]

Propst also faced charges having to do with his personal life, specifically that he engaged in extramarital affairs. The topic was the focus of considerable discussion on the Paul Finebaum syndicated sports talk radio show, where Hunter Ford, a reporter for The Hoover Gazette newspaper, reported the rumors. During those discussions, Ford was fired, live and on the air, by Gazette general manager John Junkin. (Ironically, Ford had previously advocated in a Gazette column that Propst be hired to fill the then-vacant head coach position at the University of Alabama at Birmingham). The Gazette went out of business about five weeks later.

Ford, who also worked for another suburban weekly, The Western Star in nearby Bessemer, went to work for that newspaper full-time after his firing from The Hoover Gazette. In his column in the edition of July 4, 2007 of The Western Star, Ford reported that a number of sources, none of which would allow their name to be used, said that Propst's alleged affairs also included three children born out of wedlock. The following week, The Western Star printed an apology for allowing Ford to print these allegations in their paper, though it did not specifically retract the charges. Propst continued to deny the allegations.

But on July 28, 2007, The Birmingham News went public with the allegations when it published a letter from attorneys for Bishop to the Hoover Board of Education.[23] The letter was a result of the board voting to not renew Bishop's contract as principal, an act which garnered widespread coverage by local news media. In the letter by Bishop's attorneys, which The News obtained through a public-records request, the attorneys state that Browning told Bishop that Propst "had a separate family and led a completely separate life," and that Bishop was told by Craig not to investigate the matter. The letter further alleges that Propst, "while on a school site visit in Houston, Texas, slept with a young teacher from Hoover High School," and also that Propst had carried on a separate affair with an official at Hoover High. Propst's attorney denied the allegations.[24]

Pointer completed his investigation in late September, and after considerable debate over several sessions (and public pressure from numerous public figures, including Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos), the Hoover Board of Education voted 4-1 to release the report through several sources, including the board's website.[25] Among the findings were that Propst's bank records indicated support for a "second family" in Pell City, Alabama, but the incidents regarding grade-changing were largely caused by an assistant principal (with whom, the report indicated, Propst had an affair) and an administrator.[26]

Propst came under further scrutiny when Hanceville High School complained to the Alabama High School Athletic Association that a former player of theirs, Tristan Purifoy, did not transfer properly to Hoover High and was therefore ineligible. On October 23, 2007, the AHSAA ruled that Purifoy was indeed ineligible, and that the Bucs would have to forfeit all games in which Purifoy played. The investigation resulted in the forfeiture of four games, including a 1-0 loss to crosstown rival Spain Park High School, the first loss to the Jaguars in the history of the teams' rivalry.[27][28] Despite the forfeits, the Bucs finished the regular season with a 4-5 record and qualified for the AHSAA 6A playoffs. However, in Propst's last game as Hoover's head coach, they lost in the third round to another crosstown rival Vestavia Hills 21-17, a game considered by many Alabama sportswriters to be the biggest rivalry in the state. His team finished the season with an on-field record of 10-2 (6-6 including the four forfeit losses).[29]

Resignation from Hoover High School[edit]

At a special meeting of the Hoover Board of Education on October 30, 2007, Propst announced that he would resign, but would continue to coach the team as far as they progress in the 2007 playoffs. In a 30-minute address to the board and a large crowd inside the board chambers, Propst tearfully admitted to a relationship outside his marriage and a child as a result of that relationship, but no other wrongdoing. "I am remorseful for what I have done. I have failed you as a community. I have failed you as a board, and especially I have failed you (Superintendent) Andy (Craig)," Propst said. "I made mistakes. I could have done things differently, but I don't admit wrongdoing inside the walls of Hoover High School."[30][31]

Head-butting player[edit]

In June 2016, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission announced that Propst would be suspended for the entire 2016 season after head-butting one of his players (and bloodying himself) during a December 4, 2015 playoff game.[32] He appealed [33] and was instead given a reprimand. [34]

Dismissal from Colquitt County High School[edit]

On March 14, 2019, Propst was relieved of his duties as the high school's head football coach in a unanimous vote by the Colquitt County Board of Education.[35] His dismissal followed an investigation that determined he had violated the Code of Ethics for Educators for (1) legal compliance, (2) conduct with students, (3) honesty, and (4) public funds and property, including giving pills to students “on more than one occasion” and owing nearly $450,000 in delinquent federal and state taxes.[36]

Instructional DVD[edit]

Propst has been featured in an instructional video entitled Building A Championship Football Program 12 Months A Year, published in 2007. The DVD outlines the steps to build a successful gridiron program, including the preparation and responsibilities of a coaching staff including the importance of building a booster club.[37][38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sentell, Jeff (August 24, 2013), Homecoming game: Rush Propst and Colquitt County to face Hoover on Friday, AL.com
  2. ^ "Cox-Propst", Gadsden Times, p. D2, March 11, 1990
  3. ^ "Football Past State Champions". AHSAA. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
  4. ^ "prepnation.com". prepnation.com. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "Super 25 football rankings". USA Today. May 20, 2005. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  6. ^ "Final 2005 Super 25 football rankings". USA Today. December 20, 2005. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  7. ^ "Super 25 champ crowned". USA Today. January 12, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  8. ^ "prepnation.com". prepnation.com. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Solomon, Jon (January 30, 2008). "Hoover's Rush Propst gets head football coaching job at Georgia high school". The Birmingham News.
  10. ^ Herndon, Mike (January 17, 2009). "Rush Propst, Hal Mumme off USA list". Press-Register. Archived from the original on September 27, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  11. ^ Grandy, Wayne (January 9, 2009). "Propst considers college job, chooses to stay at CCHS". The Moultrie Observer. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012.
  12. ^ Tierney, Mike (November 4, 2008). "High School Football Coach Relishes His Second Chance". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Grandy, Wayne (December 10, 2009). "State championship games begin today". The Moultrie Observer. Archived from the original on September 7, 2012.
  14. ^ "2010 Georgia High School Football State Championship Bracket".
  15. ^ "2011 Georgia Boys State Football Playoff Bracket: GHSA Class AAAAA".
  16. ^ "Norcross 41, Colquitt County 27". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014.
  17. ^ "Norcross rallies to win state high school football championship".
  18. ^ "Norcross 14, Colquitt County 9". Archived from the original on January 2, 2014.
  19. ^ "Three teams win their first state championships".
  20. ^ Scarbinsky, Kevin (June 24, 2007). "Hoover High may be own worst enemy". The Birmingham News. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  21. ^ Stock, Erin; Jon Solomon (June 26, 2007). "No promises in Hoover probe". The Birmingham News. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Stock, Erin; Jon Solomon (June 23, 2007). "Superintendent pledges independent probe". The Birmingham News. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  23. ^ "Letter from attorneys for Richard Bishop to the Hoover Board of Education, reprinted by The Birmingham News and al.com, July 28, 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  24. ^ Stock, Erin (July 28, 2007). "Principal was warned off Propst, lawyers say". The Birmingham News.
  25. ^ Stock, Erin; Jon Solomon (October 11, 2007). "Hoover board to release full report". The Birmingham News.
  26. ^ Solomon, Jon (October 14, 2007). "Questions, answers in Hoover". The Birmingham News.
  27. ^ Solomon, Jon (October 23, 2007). "Hoover must forfeit games due to ineligible player". The Birmingham News.
  28. ^ Steinbauer, Peter (October 18, 2007). "AHSAA Probes Player's Status". The Birmingham News. Archived from the original on November 17, 2007.
  29. ^ Steinbauer, Peter (November 28, 2007). "Propst era ends with legacy of winning". The Birmingham News.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ Solomon, Jon; Erin Stock (October 30, 2007). "Rush Propst resigns but will coach through end of playoffs". The Birmingham News.
  31. ^ Halley, Jim (October 30, 2007). "Hoover (Ala.) High coach agrees to step down". USA Today.
  32. ^ "Rush Propst suspended a year for head-butting own player in this video, will appeal". AL.com. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  33. ^ "Colquitt County coach Propst appeals one-year suspension | Prep Zone: High School Sports blog". Highschoolsports.blog.ajc.com. June 17, 2016. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  34. ^ Wallace, Jake. "Propst suspension dropped, will receive reprimand - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports". Walb.com. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  35. ^ Brown, Matthew. "School board relieves Propst of coaching duties". Moultrie Observer. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  36. ^ Grandy, Wayne. "Propst investigation cites pill incidents, dishonesty, insubordination". Moultrie Observer. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  37. ^ Amazon.com: "Building A Championship Football Program 12 Months A Year," by Rush Propst
  38. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]