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HS coach loses job over church

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For almost an entire year, Scott Phillips was doing his own weekly two-a-day.

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Every Sunday, the East Memorial Christian Academy (Ala.) athletic director would go to two Sunday church services. That’s because when he became AD at EMCA in June 2012, they told him that the promotion not only meant more work, but also joining the school’s Baptist church. Phillips and his wife and two children were members of the Church of the Highlands.

“We would go to the 9 a.m. service at East Memorial, then head over to Montgomery for the 11 a.m. service at Church of the Highlands,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser. “It was just not working at all.”

More from the Advertiser:

Phillips says that EMCA officials told him that the AD position must be a member of East Memorial Baptist Church — a claim the school’s headmaster Bryan Easley confirmed to the Advertiser in an email.

“I was 30 seconds from turning the job down because of the church issue,” Phillips said. “They wanted me to transition from the Church of the Highlands to East Memorial. I never really liked that, so I went back in my administrator’s office and told them I was willing to give this a try, but I don’t know how this will work out?"

After having a heart-to-heart with an EMCA official, he waited to hear back until late June. When he knew the school wouldn’t cave, he reluctantly decided to resign.

For the record, Phillips was successful on the field at EMCA, resurrecting the football team in his first season as head coach — including securing the school's first playoff berth after a five-year drought — and leading the basketball team to a 28-3 record and Class AA state title. Once he withdrew from the AD position at the end of this academic year, he wasn’t welcomed back to his old prior coaching-only post, either.

“If it had have been in my contract, I possibly would have not taken the job,” Phillips said. “I was totally committed to East Memorial (the school). I thought I did enough to prove I didn’t have to be a member to do my job effectively. I didn’t bad-mouth the school or turn anyone away from it.

“I was an advocate of East Memorial as the athletic director. That’s what I thought my role was.”

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