Walpole rejoins Academic Magnet, 'thankful' to be coaching again

McGinley: Coach Walpole to be reinstated Thursday
Published: Oct. 22, 2014 at 7:46 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 23, 2014 at 6:31 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Bud Walpole announced Thursday he has accepted the offer to return as the head football coach at Academic Magnet High School.

"I'm relieved and thankful to the school board and community to be coaching again," said Walpole in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with the players to make this a learning experience for everyone."

The Raptors' head football coach was fired Monday following an investigation by the Charleston County School District into "inappropriate post game celebrations," by the team.

Charleston County School Superintendent Nancy McGinley says the celebrations involved upperclassmen smashing a watermelon on the ground while the team chanted that sounded "animalistic or monkey-like."

According to Walpole's attorney Dwayne Green, the coach never pursed legal action. Green says he was only brought on as an advisor.

McGinley said Wednesday she asked Walpole to resume his coaching duties effective Thursday.

"Taking into consideration the potential value that he will add to our students and the community, given this experience, I am asking him to resume his coaching duties effective Thursday, October 23, 2014," McGinley said.

That announcement followed a meeting between McGinley and Walpole and reports that the school board was pushing for Walpole to get his coaching job back.

In a statement issued after the 2 p.m. meeting, McGinley said she "went into this meeting with an open mind prepared to listen to both his perspective and his appeal."

"During the meeting, he acknowledged that the facts that emerged surrounding the celebratory practices of the Academic Magnet High School football program could be viewed in a negative way. He agreed that we will work together on increasing diversity awareness for students and the community," McGinley said.

McGinley said she asked Walpole to provide a written statement of commitment, after which she would consider his position as head football coach. She said she received his statement at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Walpole's written statement included three specific commitments, according to McGinley's statement:

1. I commit to teach all of the students to better respect the differences of others and to be sensitive to their feelings.

2. I will attend and participate with students in any sensitivity training sponsored or initiated by the district.

3. I will counsel my students before games to be extra vigilant in their actions when dealing with others of different racial or ethnic backgrounds.

"While there are, and may continue to be, different perspectives on this chain of events," McGinley continued, "I would like to invite our community to join together with me and Coach Walpole to use this as a 'teachable moment' for the benefit of our children."

"This is not about winning or losing, this is about enhancing our commitment to dignity and respect, regardless of our differences," McGinley said.

Elizabeth Moffley says the board gave McGinley a chance to reverse the decision of firing a Walpole over a celebration involving watermelons which the school district said had racial overtones.

Moffley says the majority of the board feels McGinley made the wrong decision, and were ready to reverse the decision with a vote if McGinley doesn't act.

Earlier today the NAACP held a press conference in downtown Charleston regarding Walpole. Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said she spoke to Walpole who apologized for the celebrations and said he did not see them as racially insensitive.

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