Board member says coach was forced to resign, superintendent says resignation was voluntary

Lincoln County, GA (WJBF)—The resignation of a local coach is making waves. Lincoln County High School’s head football coach and athletic director, Kevin Banks announced he is stepping down.

In cell phone video taken during Tuesday night’s school board meeting, you can hear board member Denise Freeman passionately decline Coach Banks’ resignation.

“Kevin Banks did not give a resignation. You guys told him it had to be in here by January or y’all were going to fire him,” Freeman says looking at the rest of the school board, “It’s flat out wrong,” she continues. “Just because he looks like me? The man has been here since 1995.”

We reached out to Coach Kevin Banks, but he says he does not want to comment at this time.

On Thursday we sent NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne to talk to board member Denise Freeman and Superintendent Dr. Samuel Light.

Dr. Light says the situation is as simple as Banks resigned, and they accepted. Board member Denise Freeman says Coach Banks was forced to resign.

“When you haven’t done anything wrong and you have such a great record in the four years that you’ve been head coach—why in god’s name would you resign. I’m saying it wasn’t his idea,” says Freeman.

Kevin Banks has coached the Red Devils for 24 years. He took over as head coach in 2014 following Coach Larry Campbell, Georgia’s winningest head football coach. Banks’ record as head coach was 30 wins, 15 losses and 1 tie. That is a winning percentage of 66%.

On Thursday, we asked the Lincoln County schools superintendent Dr. Samuel Light if Coach Banks was asked to step down.

“No,” said Dr. Light. “Coach Banks came to me and said that he wanted to spend more time with his family and that he was submitting his resignation. He did it on his terms, on his time. All I can say is he’s an extremely professional man and I can only applaud him for how he’s handled this,” continued Dr. Light.

Freeman insists there is more to the story. “I don’t know why they asked him to resign, but let me give you some context to this.” Freeman continues, “institutionalized, systematic racism has lived here…I can attest to that because I’ve been here 35 years almost. It is so bad now.”

NewsChannel 6 reporter Ashley Osborne asked the superintendent about the implication that Coach Banks’ resignation had something to do with race. He responded with the following.

“I think that is a ridiculous statement that is totally inappropriate and I’ll just leave it at that,” says Dr. Light.

Freeman tells NewsChannel 6 that Banks is the right man for the job. “He’s of good character. He has a master’s degree…He doesn’t just coach these children…He makes sure they know what they need to know to be successful.”

Dr. Light says the position for head football coach at Lincoln County is posted and they have started the process of finding the next coach to lead the Red Devils next season.

We also talked to Kenneth Elam, president of the Lincoln County Branch of the NAACP. Elam says they will be talking about Coach Banks’ resignation during their meeting at the Lincoln County Library on Monday.

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