Coach fired over watermelon celebration is rehired
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) A South Carolina high school football coach has been reinstated after he was fired over postgame celebrations that officials said had racial overtones, with players smashing watermelons and making ape-like sounds.
Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley reinstated Bud Walpole of Academic Magnet High School in Charleston County after meeting with him, she said in a statement Wednesday.
Walpole agreed to participate in any district sensitivity training and counsel players before games to be vigilant of their actions in dealing with those of different races or backgrounds, according to the statement.
Walpole was fired earlier this week after McGinley was notified that the celebrations offended the parent of an opposing player. The players from the predominantly white school gathered and a face with eyes, a nose, a smile and a mouthful of teeth was drawn on the watermelon. Two players smashed the watermelon, and the others made chanting sounds before eating the fruit as a postgame snack.
McGinley said earlier this week that the district had met with players and students, the head coach and the two assistant coaches. She said the coaches told district officials they were aware of the ritual and ''they did not observe cultural insensitivity.''
But McGinley said: ''It was our conclusion that the accountability lies with the adults - that the perceptions and practices that were part of this ritual were not something that adults should have sanctioned.''
Walpole had been removed as coach of the football team and the girls' basketball team but was continuing to teach.
A phone listing for Walpole could not be found. On online petition with more than 1,000 names had sought his reinstatement.