Supporters of a former basketball coach in New Hanover County crowded Tuesday's Board of Education meeting to support former Ashley High School's boys basketball Coach David Rutledge.
It was announced in April that Rutledge's coaching career at Ashley High was over after just one year. His teaching position could be in jeopardy too.
Some had complained about Rutledge's leadership, saying he is too rough.
But former varsity boys basketball captain Trey Williford says Rutledge's tactics were just different.
"When he started he gave countless hours to the basketball team that no other coach I've ever known does," Williford explained. "He's really opened our eyes to a new way of thinking, a new way of service, selfless service is big with him and it really permeates through everything he does and everyone he's around."
Ashley parent Mark Hicks said he appreciates Rutledge's hard work mentality.
"We feel he is more of an old school coach and we mean that in a good way. There aren't many men like that anymore," Hicks said. "He cares about so many kids, tutors so many kids, helps so many kids study."
"If he doesn't come back it sets an impossible precedent for teachers and coaches to do their job. I mean he's getting fired for doing his job," Williford said.
Ashley parent Rick Davis, who was on the committee that brought Rutledge to Ashley, said Rutledge is a great asset and wants to see him stay at Ashley.
"He's a great person in regards to influence," Davis noted. "A great role model, he's helped my son even get involved in community activities."
Ashley's officials said they can't comment on the matter since it is a personnel issue, but supporters of Rutledge put a lot of the blame on the administration.
"He showed them so many things in life, and we feel like that's being taken away so it's not just a teacher, or just a coach it's also a mentor with life and that's what we feel our kids are losing and that's why we feel so upset," Hicks said.
"He's been a great influence to a lot of kids, if you talk with a lot the kids who are in his classroom, they'll give him rave reviews," Davis said. "He's been a great influence to a lot of basketball kids with his hard-work effort, reaching out making them the best that they can be."
School leaders won't comment on Rutledge's future. Rutledge didn't want to comment either, but he did express his gratitude for the students and parents supporting him.
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