Rally supports Kentucky coach allegedly fired for giving too little playing time to Superintedent’s grandson

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Some 50 people showed up outside a school board meeting in Kentucky to support a longtime football coach who found himself looking for a job following the 2011 season, allegedly because the school district's superintendent sent him text messages accusing him of not giving her grandson enough playing time.

The 2011 George Rogers Clark football team — GRCHS.com
The 2011 George Rogers Clark football team — GRCHS.com

As reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader and Winchester Sun, Winchester (Kent.) George Rogers Clark High football coach Paul Columbia was fired in December three months after he claims that he first received text messages from Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Elaine Farris. In a series of text messages, Columbia was allegedly attacked by Farris for failing to give her grandson — who was on the Cardinals football team — enough time on the field.

Columbia has retained his position as an assistant principal at George Rogers Clark, but Farris' decision to fire him from his head coaching position brought an end to his 13-year rein leading the program, a move which infuriated a number of Columbia supporters, not least of all the coach's wife.

Clark County Superintendent Elaine Farris — Lexington Herald-Leader
Clark County Superintendent Elaine Farris — Lexington Herald-Leader

"I want to clearly state I didn't come out here to get her to behave; I want her to be fired, I want her to resign," Patti Columbia, Paul Columbia's wife, told the Herald-Leader. "I think she needs to go."

For her part, Farris has insisted that the allegations against her are untrue (one would think that existing text messages between Farris and Columbia regarding playing time for her grandson would serve as significant evidence that something untoward may have been happening), and that the rumors about why Columbia was fired are simply "a personal vendetta" on the part of the wife of a football coach.

That story doesn't seem to resonate with the parents, teachers and Kentucky Education Association representatives who gathered Tuesday night to support the 54-year-old former coach who seemed totally comfortable that the rally wouldn't put his continued position as an assistant principal at risk.

"After 30 years in coaching, to be called in and told you're being terminated ... it isn't the right way to treat somebody," he said.

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