RINGGOLD, Ga. -- Heritage High School championship wrestling coach Kenny Hill has resigned his coaching duties, principal Ronnie Bradford confirmed Thursday.
Bradford gave no reason for the resignation, and a message left on the coach's cell phone was not returned as of Thursday night, but a Heritage wrestler's parent, Karen Randall, said Hill was forced to resign in the wake of an incident at the GHSA state traditional tournament in February.
According to Randall, following the ceremony in which the Generals were honored as Class AAA state champions, one of the wrestlers asked an official at the tournament if he could have one of the GHSA banners hanging on the wall. After being told yes, the wrestler, according to Randall, "wore it like a cape, so it wasn't a secret. They hung it on the wrestling room wall. Apparently the worker that gave it to us wasn't authorized, so they wanted their sign back and they wanted money."
The GHSA was made aware of a photo posted on the team's Facebook page showing the banner and called the school to ask for it back. The team had signed it, so the GHSA asked for payment of the $650 the banner cost instead. According to Randall, there was a delay in the payment -- though the wrestling booster club did send a check -- and that delay cost Hill his position.
"I heard about what happened and wrote the principal a letter," Randall said. "He called me and said that the coach had been contacted before spring break and that it hadn't been taken care of in a timely fashion, so this is why it's happened.
"No matter what happened, it didn't happen in a vacuum. It wasn't a secret. All the boys are heartbroken, and my heart's broken over this."
Bradford, after confirming that Hill had resigned both his wrestling and assistant football positions, did not comment on the move except to say that Hill can remain at the school as a teacher and that he hopes to name a replacement before school is out.
"Right now we don't have any open [teaching] positions," he said. "As the year advances we'll have to look at what we can do. Both assistant coaches will remain as assistants, so we will have to search for a head coach."
Hill, a four-time state champion as a wrestler (three at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and one at East Ridge), has been the Heritage coach since the school opened four years ago. He directed the Generals to runner-up finishes in the state duals this year and in the duals and the traditional events last year.
Attempts to reach the GHSA for comment on the matter were unsuccessful.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...