A famous Georgia Little League manager will not be allowed to try and lead his town's program back to the Little League World Series after he was found to have illegally brought alcohol into the association's Williamsport, Pa., grounds during his team's 2011 run in the tournament, even though the coach apparently never drank a drop of it.
As first reported by the Macon Telegraph and confirmed by the Associated Press, Warner Robbins (Ga.) Little League coach Phillip Johnson will not be allowed to take part in the 2012 Little League season after he was found to have carried alcohol into the Creighton J. Hale International Grove, a dormitory area at the Williamsport Little League International Complex. All areas of the Williamsport complex are alcohol free during the tournament, which left little wriggle room for Johnson to explain why he had toted alcohol into the facility.
Yet, according to the coach, he never drank any of the alcohol, which was presented to him as a gift from a parent of one of the team's players. Rather, Johnson claims he felt guilty as soon as he brought the alcohol into the facility and promptly threw it out instead of holding on to the bottle.
Despite that mitigating factor, Little League officials still decided to ban him from the 2012 event (should Warner Robins advance that far), with the Warner Robins Area Little League following suit and barring him from coaching during the association's regular season as well.
"Little League found out, and obviously I made a bad decision. I admitted it, and I regret it," Johnson told the Telegraph.
While Johnson has left the option of returning to manage in the WRALL in the future -- an option which remains on the table given the one-year length of his suspension -- others have been quick to note the positive impact that he has already had on the area's youth in his time as an influential baseball coach.
"There's no telling how many kids he's mentored and coached in a positive way," WRALL president Mickey Lay told the Telegraph.
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