Rushed Out: Propst ousted as Valdosta head coach; Felton named interim coach

File PhotoValdosta head football coach Rush Propst looks down the sideline during the fourth quarter of Valdosta's 14-0 win against Northside on Oct. 30, 2020 at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

VALDOSTA, Georgia – A Georgia high school that touts itself as the nation's "most winningest" football team will have a new coach for the 2021 season.

The Valdosta, Ga., Board of Education voted to not renew Valdosta High School head football coach Rush Propst by a 5-3 vote.

The non-renewal is the latest twist in the Propst saga.

Propst, who was placed on administrative leave March 9, led the Wildcats to a 7-5 record in his first season with Valdosta. The 'Cats reached the GHSA Class 6A state semifinals for the first time since 2016 and finished the season winners of five of their last seven games.

In the months since the 2020 season ended, Propst came under fire after allegations surfaced from a 64-page deposition in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by the former Coach Alan Rodemaker and his wife against the Valdosta Board of Education.

Among the claims made in the deposition, money intended for advertising was personally pocketed, tampering with the coach search that hired Propst and requests for "funny money" to pay rent for recruits and their families to stay in Valdosta during the 2020 season.

Recruiting is not allowed for high school football teams. 

On April 8, the GHSA sent a letter of recommendation to Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. William "Todd" Cason with a list of sanctions against Valdosta High School.

The sanctions are as follows: Five players ruled ineligible to play in the state of Georgia for a calendar year, forfeiture of all wins during the 2020 season, a $7,500 fine ($1,000 for each ineligible player, plus $2,500 for lack of institutional control) and probation for the 2021 season that includes a postseason ban.

On April 19, VCS appealed the sanctions levied against the football program. The GHSA unanimously denied the appeal and Valdosta has since declared their intention to appeal the decision in front of the GHSA's Board of Trustees at a later date.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is currently investigating a complaint made against Propst by Valdosta City Schools back on March 11.

As the 'Cats open spring practice Thursday afternoon, assistant coach Shelton Felton will serve as the team's acting head coach. Felton most recently served as outside linebackers coach under head coach Jeremy Pruitt at the University of Tennessee. Like Pruitt, Felton was fired with cause after an investigation into potential recruiting violations in mid-January.

Though Valdosta is reportedly launching a nationwide coaching search, if Felton is promoted to head coach, he would become the first Black head coach in Valdosta High's history.

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