published Monday, November 18th, 2013

Another Marion County football coach arrested on vandalism charge

  • photo
    Marion county assistant coach Joe Dan Grudger instructs the Warrior linebackers during drills.
    Photo by Robin Rudd.
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JASPER, Tenn. — Marion County sheriff's deputies and Jasper police have made a second arrest in the case of the vandalism at Marion County High School's football field house.

Marion County High School teacher and assistant football coach Joe Dan Gudger was arrested Tuesday around 2:30 p.m. Eastern on charges of vandalism of $1,000-$10,000 and unlawful possession of alcohol on school property.

The vandalism charge stems from the school's field house and other property being spray painted with vulgarities and having trash strewn over the parking lot during the early morning hours of Nov. 1. Officers involved believe the vandalism was an attempt to inspire the Marion County football team before its game against county rival South Pittsburg that night. However, the Pirates won the game 35-17.

Gudger is the second Marion County assistant coach in less than a week to be arrested after a joint investigation by the Marion County sheriff's department and Jasper police.

Last Wednesday assistant Michael Schmitt was arrested on the same charge. Schmitt, who was also the Warriors head baseball coach, has been suspended while the investigation continues, according to Marion County school superintendent Mark Griffith. There was no immediate comment on Gudger's status with the school.

Following Schmitt's arrest, county investigators pulled his cell phone records and discovered conversations between Schmitt and other coaches discussing painting the field house and making it look like South Pittsburg supporters were the culprits.

One sheriff's department official said the investigation is continuing and that more charges could be coming, as early as this week. He would neither confirm nor deny whether other members of the Marion County coaching staff were involved.

Marion County is still alive in the Class 2A playoffs, set to travel to second-ranked Trousdale County for a quarterfinal game Friday.

For more on this story, check back to timesfreepress.com and read Wednesday's Times Free Press.

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.

about Stephen Hargis...

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 ...

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