It was an offer too good to pass up that became too good to be true.
Just four days after agreeing to become the new head football coach at Coahulla Creek, Vic Grider told school administrators Friday morning that he would not take the job. That decision came after he was informed that the deal he had been offered was not really available.
"I can't really put into words how disappointed I am over this," said Grider, who won three state titles in 16 seasons as South Pittsburg's head coach. "It was a punch to the gut when I got the call that the deal I was promised wasn't there. I was really excited and had already put in a lot of work to put together a great staff and had big plans for the program.
"The good thing for me is that I wasn't looking for a job when I got the call originally, so I can stay here and keep working at a place I love. But ever since I got that call and was told the deal I was promised wasn't there anymore, the whole situation has been really upsetting."
The 47-year-old Grider is an assistant principal and the athletic director and softball coach at South Pittsburg. He resigned as football coach after the 2012 season.
Less than a week after turning down the Georgia school's original offer, Grider was contacted by Coahulla Creek principal Dr. Stan Stewart with a new offer that included an estimated salary of $100,000, which included a $7,500 athletic supplement -- the amount paid to the head football coach at each of Whitfield County's three high schools. Stewart extended an additional incentive package of around $20,000, which would have come from the school's football booster club.
However, once Whitfield County school superintendent Dr. Judy Gilreath was told of the incentives, she called Grider to inform him that the additional money could not be covered under Whitfield County Schools athletic policy.
"Dr. Stewart is a first-year high school principal and I think he got excited and didn't realize he was making offers that we couldn't follow through on," Dr. Gilreath said. "We have a board policy that states boosters can't pay coaches' salaries, so as much as I hated to, I had to call Vic and let him know. We were hoping to still keep him on, but the difference was just too much."
Aside from his incentive package, Grider also had been told he could hire as many as eight assistant coaches, but Gilreath said that wasn't a certainty, either.
"I had told Dr. Stewart that we would give them two more coaching spots because Coahulla Creek has been short two spots compared with the other schools in the county. But I don't know where the number of eight assistants came from or how that was going to happen.
"We're all just sick over this. I wish I had known about it earlier so I could have avoided a lot of issues for Coach Grider. We all feel terrible for him because he didn't do anything wrong. I hate he had to be put in this situation. We still wanted him as coach, but the money he had been offered wasn't the same."
According to Dr. Gilreath, the job opening will be posted on the Whitfield County Schools website and the search for a coach will continue.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...