Herman Boone, the successful and sometimes controversial football coach at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, has been fired by the school's principal, Robert Hanley.
The dismissal drew angry criticism yesterday from Alexandria School Board member Bill Euille, who said the move "could have been racially motivated and another black was only appointed to keep down the noise."
Boone, 37, the first black football coach in Northern Virginia, became Williams' coach when it was consolidated with two other high schools in 1971.
Hanley named Paul Hines, an assistant under Boone since 1971,as the school's new coach.
"I think it was a slap in the face; there was no legitimate rationale for releasing Boone," said Euille.
"I would like to know the real reason. There are a few questions to be ANSWERED. BOONE HAS MADE A NAME FOR HIMSELF AND THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA WITH HIS SUCCESS AT WILLIAMS.
"WE (THE BOARD) WOULDN'T WANT TO GET INTO ANY DOGFIGHT WITH THE ADMINISTRATION AT WILLIAMS CONCERNING THE FOOTBALL JOB. THE BOARD SHOULD HEAR BOONE'S SIDE AND THEN WE'LL EITHER CONCUR WITH THE DECISION OR TRY TO REINSTATE BOONE,"
"IT'S UNFORTUNATE A SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER WOULD THINK SUCH A THING," HANLEY SAID. "MR. HINES WAS GIVEN THE JOB NOT BECAUSE HE'S BLACK BUT BECAUSE HE EARNED IT. THERE'S JUST NO TRUTH TO HIS [SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER EULLIE'S] ACCUSATION, NONE AT ALL."
"I WAS SURPRISED WHEN I WAS TOLD I WOULD NOT BE COACHING IN SEPTEMBER," BOONE SAID. "I WAS CALLED IN AND THE PRINCIPAL (HANLEY) HANDED ME A LETTER SAYING PAUL HINES WOULD TAKE OVER AS HEAD COACH. HE JUST TOLD ME HE FELT THE PROGAM NEEDED A CHANGE.
"I PLAN TO APPEAL TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION. WHETHER THEY WILL LISTEN TO MY CASE, I DON'T KNOW. I'M JUST EXERCISING MY RIGHT TO APPEAL. RIGHT NOW, I DON'T HAVE ANTHING MORE TO SAY. THAT'S UNUSUAL FOR ME SINCE I LIKE TO TALK SO MUCH."
BOONE HAS COME UNDER FIRE RECENTLY FOR ALLEGEDLY ABUSING HIS PLAYERS ORALLY AND PHYSICALLY, CHARGES HE HAS DENIED IN THE PAST, AND DENIED AGAIN YESTERDAY.
THREE ASSISTANT COACHES, DENNIS SHAW, BILL YOST AND BILL ALLEN, THREATENED TO RESIGN IN THE SPRING OF 1978 UNLESS BOONE WAS RELIEVED OF HIS POSITION.
AFTER SEVERAL MEETINGS WITH THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION AND THE SUPERINTENDENT, THE THREE COACHES RETURNED TO WORK UNDER BOONE. NONE OF THE CHARGES AGAINST BOONE WAS SUBSTANTIATED.
ONE SCHOOL OFFICIAL SAID YESTERDAY MOST OF THE CHARGES AGAINST BOONE WERE "JUST A BUNCH OF TALK TO GET RID OF HIM. THEY (ASSISTANT COACHES) DIDN'T LIKE HIM, AND WANTED TO GET HIM OUT."
HANLEY SAID BOONE WAS FIRED NOT BECAUSE OF ANY PRIOR CHARGES OR POOR COACHING, BUT BECAUSE "A CHANGE WAS NEEDED.
"I'M DOING THAT IN A NUMBER OF POSITIONS, BOTH IN THE ACADEMIC AND ATHLETIC PROGRAMS," HANLEY SAID. "OUR SCHOOL ENROLLMENT IS GOING UP TO 2,700 (10TH GRADERS WILL BE ADDED) NEXT YEAR AND WE NEED TO MAKE A FEW CHANGES. WE FELT WE WANTED TO GIVE ANOTHER PERSON A CHANCE AT THE JOB."
BOONE, A NATIVE OF ROCKY MOUNT N.C., came to Williams after a successful record of coaching at Luthern Foster High in Blackstone, Va., and E.J. Hayes in Williamson, N.C.He was an assistant under Bill Blair for two years at Williams before becoming head coach in 1971.
With only 11th and 12th graders in the school, Boone coached Williams to the state AAA championship in 1971. In the next seven years, Boone won four district titles and two regional crowns. He compiled a 62-21-2 record in eight seasons at Williams.
Hines has been Boone's assistant since 1971. A physical education teacher, Hines will be transferred from Hammond Junior High to Williams in the fall.
"I'm surprised Boone was let go," Hines said. "I'm very excited about the job. Right now I'm in the process of putting together a staff of assistants."
Hines said Shaw, Allen, Don Futrell (the junior varsity coach at George Washington High in Alexandria) and A.K. Johnson (a former Boone assistant) have committed themselves to be assistants.
Boone, a physical education teacher, will remain as head of that department.