It is clear that the Alabama High School Athletic Association agrees with me that if Cullman’s Coach Hopper had not approached Walker’s Coach Holladay, no punch would have been thrown. That is why Hopper has been suspended by AHSAA for the remainder of the season. And, that is why Cullman gets to join Jasper in paying a $1,500 fine. Incidentally, we have learned from someone close to the investigations that Hopper’s puffed-up face injury was NOT from Holladay’s right hook, but from the police baton of a Cullman police officer.
I am not attempting to make excuses for Coach Holladay’s conduct, because it is inexcusable! What I am trying to draw attention to is the response of both schools as a result of this event, two very different responses:
Jasper School system’s response was quick and responsible. Coach Holladay was put on administrative leave and cooperated in the various investigations. Our school system took responsibility for it’s part in the altercation. Then, Coach Holladay “manned up” and took personal responsibility for his role and properly resigned as head coach before AHSAA sanctions were announced. Jasper made no excuses. A proper response!
Cullman, on the other hand, has not accepted their responsibility. They have taken NO action as a school system acknowledging the contribution of Coach Hopper, refusing to sanction him in any way. Fortunately, the AHSAA understood his contribution and suspended him from coaching for the remainder of the year.
But the official statements released by the two school systems following the AHSAA action are even more telling of the attitudes of the two school systems. Jasper’s response was to take full responsibility for our school’s errors, and to APOLOGIZE for bad behavior!
Cullman, on the other hand, chose instead to accept NO responsibility for their Coach’s poor judgment, and instead spent the first two-thirds of it’s page long statement bragging about their head coach’s record – which has absolutely NOTHING to do with this event. They did say they would “abide by” the sanctions, as though they had a choice, but continued to reject their culpability. Cullman has had a poor and unacceptable response.
I have always thought Cullman was a cut above most cities in Alabama, but today I have lost respect for its leadership… at least its school board. Team attitude comes from the top down, which just might explain their team’s repeated use of the “N” word toward our players.
I am, however, extremely proud of Jasper’s handling of this whole event. I am not angry with Coach Holladay. I don’t know what issues he was dealing with, professionally or personally. But we all must realize there are consequences to the decisions we make and the things we do, and in this case the price has been high. That is what Coach Holladay is teaching his team with his proper response.