published Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Signal Mountain students cited for underage drinking


by Kelli Gauthier

Six former or current Signal Mountain High School students — some of whom play for the school's newly minted state champion football team — recently were cited for underage drinking, Principal Tom McCullough confirmed Monday.

McCullough, who only found out about the incident Monday, said he would be upset if there were no consequence for the athletes, but he had not sat down to discuss the matter with football coach Bill Price.

"It smacks of cover-up all the way around. It looks like nothing was done, and that's not right," McCullough said. "Probably, had we known about it in advance, it may have cost them some time in their last football game."

One of the football team rules on Signal Mountain's website reads: "No athlete shall use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs of any kind at any time during season. ... Any violation of the above mentioned rules WILL result in some disciplinary action."

The football players involved with the alcohol incident played in the game in which Signal Mountain won the state Class 2A championship by defeating Trinity Christian Academy, McCullough said. He declined to say how many athletes were involved.

"There was an infraction to those rules and there's got to be a consequence," he said.

When asked about a group of students cited for underage drinking, Price first said he didn't know anything about the incident.

"I'm not sure what you're talking about. I have no idea," he said.

He later said that one of his players had called to tell him about the citations, but that the student told the coach he hadn't actually had any alcohol.

McCullough said Signal Mountain's school resource officer gave him a list on Monday of eight students involved in the incident and one nonstudent. But the incident report he received from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office included only six names: five current students and one recent graduate, he said.

One current student and the graduate are older than 18, McCullough said, and the four others are juveniles.

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond said the four juveniles were given citations to Juvenile Court and the two older than 18 were given citations to Hamilton County General Sessions Court.

All six were cooperative, he said, which is why they were cited to court and not arrested.

The report said "they'd gone up to a piece of property that belonged to one of the parents and they made a bonfire and were drinking beer," McCullough said.

McCullough said he plans to address the issue at a previously scheduled school assembly this morning.

"The burden put on me is: Are we allowing athletes to have an advantage that other students don't have? Are we encouraging a climate or an environment here where certain kinds of students get away with things that other kinds of students don't?" McCullough said.

The fact that he is just now finding out about the situation puts him in a difficult situation, he said. Because the students weren't at a school-sponsored activity or on school property, there is little he can do.

He said he's unsure whether he will step in and punish the football players for breaking team rules because that is the job of the football coach, and he doesn't want to "micromanage."

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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Allison12 said...

So what, a beer in high school. My goodness you should of seen what went on in Central High during Viet Nam. Signal Mtn. is an awesome school. ohhhhh a beer.

December 7, 2010 at 6:03 a.m.
cooleyd3 said...

Good attitude Allison12.

December 7, 2010 at 6:44 a.m.

You leave this championship football team alone! Gosh, who cares about whether they learn right from wrong or drink underage? Football is what it is all about, right?

December 7, 2010 at 6:46 a.m.
Sailorman said...

"Teens in U.S. Rank 25th on Math Test; Shanghai Students Top World Rankings"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-07/teens-in-u-s-rank-25th-on-math-test-trail-in-science-reading.html

And we're concerned about teens drinking a beer, as they always have, based on an arbitrarily established age range. If we as a country don't get our priorities in order, we would do well to ensure our children are familiar with Mandarin Chinese. BTW Chinese teens drink too.

December 7, 2010 at 7:15 a.m.
ceeweed said...

Fire on the Mountain! Some boys dun drank some beer!

December 7, 2010 at 8:44 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

Hey, boys will be boys and rules is rules but this is the elite Signal Mountain crowd. They have separate rules from the rest of us. It happens every few years up there. I wonder if one of the Dad's bought the beer like the last time?

If you guys don't like the age limit you could start a movement to change it.

December 7, 2010 at 8:47 a.m.
btwjmwcpa said...

Let he whose High School is without underage drinking by athletes cast the first stone!!!

December 7, 2010 at 9:25 a.m.
Axle said...

sounds more like a coach issue then the kids! Hey, rules are rules and laws are laws. The kids got cited and the coach knew about it. Coach Price couldn't afford to let a history making season slip through his fingers, it might cost him a potential college coaching position! SM has now had a drug pushing math teacher (excuse me, actually wasn't even a certified teacher!) and now looks to have a coach who can't follow through punishing his own players ! Boy am I proud to live on the mountain!

December 7, 2010 at 9:53 a.m.
mthompson332 said...

Guarantee if this was any school other than Signal Mountain, people would be in an uproar.

December 7, 2010 at 10:01 a.m.
collinsc83 said...

LIED - a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. 2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture 3. an inaccurate or false statement. Did everyone else get the impression that Coach Price lied? What kind of example is Coach Price to all the students of SMMHS? Dr. McCullough, if you cannot control the situation with the players, you can take care of the situation with the coach.

December 7, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.
Axle said...

Oh !!! I forgot one more thing! What were the parents thinking? I assume the kids have parents? If one of those kids is mine - he is out. It would be interesting to know if there was any discussion amongst the parents and the coach! Dr McCullough seems like a very honorable man to me. It will be interesting to hear more details and how he handles the incident.

December 7, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
realtruth101 said...

The first five commenters are complete IDIOTS and Hypocrits!If this would've happend at BRIANERD or HOWARD you same fools would be degrading them to the fullest! What happend to ZERO TOLARANCE???? Is it just for the Black students/NCLB? Any and all parents whose child has been expelled under zero tolarance should be at the school board demanding answers!!Right is right and wrong is wrong,unless your rich around her!

December 7, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.

Holier than thou... get your own life and out of others'.

December 7, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.
Speedlimit55 said...

Officially, these kids were on private property, not school grounds. How is this a school matter? I'm not condoning what the kids were doing, but let's shed a little perspective on the matter. If these kids are just students, not football players, this story wouldn't have been in the paper. How many of these stone throwing hypocrites have students in their communities skipping school & drinking right now? I guess it's shocking because these Signal Mountain kids (in spite of their night of drinking) attended class all week, made good grades and accomplished something other than high score on a playstation game. Please, mind your own business and let their parents handle this! As for Dr. McCullough, he should not have made any comment, this is not a school matter. And, he should not have thrown Coach Bill Price under the bus. Keep it in house Tom!

December 7, 2010 at 11:13 a.m.
librul said...

The REAL question is: 'was there any magic in the air'?

December 7, 2010 at 11:28 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Oh pleeease, I bet most of you posters are the same people that were sippin Boones Farm behind the bleechers on the school property. Yep, they had a teenager get together bonfire, on private property, and tried to sneak a beer or two. What is this world coming to? Fire Dr Scales, and Coach Price, Recall Chip Baker......

December 7, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.
kcee said...

I agree these students should not have been drinking. They should have had more respect for themselves, their parents, school, and coach than to pull such a stunt. Butttttttt, where do some of you get the idea that everyone on Signal Mtn., is rich ,and the students that attend SMMHS, Baylor or Mcallie are suppose to be perfect? I don't believe there is a high school in Hamilton County that doesn't have some drinking and smoking going on. Maybe you are one of these parents that think your kids are perfect, and you know where they are all the time and what they are doing.

December 7, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.
mountainrich said...

No they should not have been drinking underage, but, if this is the worst thing they do on private property, away from school,what is the big deal.This has nothing to do with the people being football players. I'm sure the drinking was not the reason the team brought home the 1st state title in the last 10 years in Hamilton County. If it wasn't for all of the Signal haters, this would have never made the paper.Some are still pissed because we have a highschool on the mountain that cares about education, parent involvment, and doesn't have a day care to keep kids while baby-mamma's in 10th grade.

December 7, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.
Speedlimit55 said...

OK folks, the secret's out of the bag. In the eighties and nineties it was steroids that gave the athletes an advantage. Now, it's beer! From the acusations of recruiting, to the acusations of paying for transfer students and now "The Beer Scandal of 2010", only goes to show that some folks outside of Signal Mountain have proven that they're simply incapable of comprehending how a community can conceive an idea, establish a plan, exacute that plan to acheive superb results in a short amount of time. People, it can be done! Instead of making up things that make you feel better for doing nothing in your schools, get off the computer and get to work in your community. You're wasting your time and efforts trying to bring us down. Our focus is on our community and providing the best possible environment for our families. No matter how much mud you sling, we will not let it slow us down. I guess we're doing too well for the rest of the Chattanooga area. Hate the community if it makes you feel better about yourselves, but your time would be better spent getting involved in your own back yards.

December 7, 2010 at 2:57 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Apparently it is a slow news day, who give's a rat's butt about this? The issue is being dealt with. As the commenter wrote before me, for those who NEVER drank alcohol before age 21, case the first stone. I'm guessing that is a very small crowd. The rest of the self righteous desenters can pound sand.

December 7, 2010 at 3:57 p.m.
SmartyMarty said...

We could learn a thing or two from Baylor. They know how to handle it "in house" when a kid gets caught with a little beer or weed. Of course, they've had a lot of practice.

December 7, 2010 at 10:50 p.m.
EZ said...

You guys are blowing this all out of proportion. Most of you making the comments about Signal Mtn. sound like a bunch of jealous 9th grade girls. Class warfare is ugly, especially from "adults". What is that teaching the kids? If the incident happened off school property and not during school time then the school has absolutely no recourse. It's none of their business. The parents should handle the matter.

December 8, 2010 at 9:41 a.m.
waytogo61 said...

Whoa, Coach Price - not exactly the role model now we thought he was. You don't say you don't know anything about an incident and then come back to say you did AND indicate that you did nothing wrong! That is lying!! Some of the parents' attitudes toward this don't surprise me at all. New to the community, it has not been difficult to see in the past few months that more and more we run into students who perceive themselves "privileged" and expect more "privilege" - sad that they don't realize this is not the real world! Now that the story is out, it is clear that we all need to band as a community to teach children right and wrong - underage drinking, regardless of the celebration, is WRONG. Not discipling the players for not respecting their role as a school leader is wrong. Most other schools would have. I hope we as parents and a school make a step in the right direction toward erasing the common thought of entitlement that a number of our students seem to possess.

December 9, 2010 at 10:59 p.m.
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