Parents crowded into the Boyd High School library Thursday night to discuss the hiring process for an athletic director to replace longtime AD and head football coach J.G. Cartwright.
One by one, 10 speakers from the crowd of more than 50 stepped behind a podium and addressed the school board and superintendent during the special called meeting.
All who spoke said they wanted the new AD to be a spiritual man with high integrity.
“These coaches spend as much time with the kids as we do as parents,” said Kevin Alexander. “It’s very, very important that we have a man in that position that has integrity, that has morals, that has character.
“I’m looking for a man that is going to hold himself accountable, that’s gonna hold his coaches accountable, that’s gonna hold his kids accountable,” Alexander said. “A man that’s gonna know what’s going on in the locker rooms. A man that knows when music is being played in the locker rooms that it’s not demeaning women, and that’s not glorifying sex, drugs and all these other things.
“And winning, yes, it is important. But I don’t want to see the morals and values of my children and your children being jeopardized to get one more in the win column. If you teach them integrity, values and morals, the wins will come.”
“There’s a lot of us that walked through these doors tonight that all went to school here,” said Steven Edwards. “We all need somebody that’s going to be a godly man.”
“It is important to me who coaches my children,” said Stacey Smith. “I want a godly man teaching our children. It’s important to me. It’s important to my country. It’s important on all levels. I’m 35 years old, and I just found Jesus. So it’s distressing for me to think that someone might be coming in here that’s not.”
Some also suggested the school board and superintendent look in-house for a replacement.
“In this case, you can look in-house and get exactly what you want,” Billy Childress told the board. “It’s rare you get that opportunity. We have the resources. We have people who know the system and are going to be loyal.”
Former school board member Sheril Tidwell-Rodgers agreed.
“This is an emotional topic for all of us,” she said. “I agree with everyone that we need a godly and honest person, an ethical person.
“That all starts at home, but I believe we have teachers and coaches in this district that are teaching that as well,” she said We already have potential candidates here that do exhibit all of those qualities. I hope y’all will look at home first before you go outside.”
The board was divided on whether or not to hire a consultant to aid in the search.
“I believe we need to be ready for change if we need it,” said board member Linda Ware. “It’s important that insiders be considered as much as anybody, but we have to bring in new blood every so often.”
“The best person for the job, whether it is in-house or out, it will be evident,” said board member Jana Tate. “They will rise above the others, and we’ll know.”
“We have a wonderful program,” board member Kim Hudson said. “We need to keep developing all 10 of our athletic programs. But I say we go with a consultant and see what our options are.”
“As long as I’ve been in Boyd, this is probably the most difficult decision I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of,” said board member Ernest Partin. “You can’t ever replace Joe, I’ll tell you that.
“The system that we have in place we’ve got to trust and believe in it because it works … We’ve got to look as hard and deep as we can to find the best person for the job.”
Board member Minor Hopkins admitted that he did have an interest in the hire. His son Brandon Hopkins, the offensive coordinator for Boyd, is a candidate.
“I have an interest,” he said. “But I’m fair.”
Superintendent John Emshoff said there was no timeline on the hiring process, and he didn’t know if the district would hire a consultant or not.
Emshoff did address the room. He described how his own rise to superintendent started when he was hired as an assistant principal at Boyd High School six years ago.
“I’m proof that you can find good candidates in-house,” he said.
He stressed the importance of the eventual decision to replace Cartwright.
“The weight of this decision is taxing both mentally and physically,” Emshoff said. “I’ve had several people tell me my future here depends on this decision. I’ve even had someone tell me they are praying for me.”
Cartwright has been head football coach at Boyd for 35 years. He announced his retirement earlier this month. He’s one of the winningest high school football coaches in Texas history.
Cartwright, who was near the back of the crowd during the meeting, is also going to aid in the new hire.
Ware helped put everything in perspective.
“We’ve got a lot of things to look at in the academic world,” Ware said. “I mean a lot is on our plate there … Probably if we put that much effort into academics, we’d have another rating.”
“I think you need to find the best person for the job,” said board president Pam Galloway to Emshoff. “Be it male or female.”