Controversy surrounds SWD football coach hiring

Champion Newspaper

Former Miller Grove High School football coach Damien Wimes was named the new Southwest DeKalb High School football coach.

Wimes, a 1991 graduate of Southwest DeKalb, was introduced to the players, parents and alumni respectively at the school Feb. 9 for meet and greet sessions. He coached at Miller Grove for six seasons, accumulating a 30-30 record, before he was fired after the 2015 season. Wimes spent the 2016 season as an assistant coach a Starr’s Mills High School before applying for the Southwest DeKalb job.

“Everything truly happens in God’s timing,” Wimes said about getting his dream job. “It’s kind of a thing where you have to be patient with the process, you have to trust the process and I just trusted in God and I know he would make everything ok. That’s what got me here.

“It’s a lot of work to do,” Wimes added. “But I just have to put the people around me who can really get it done. I know the community will be supportive and I’ll just try to get it done and do the best I can here and extend the legacy of producing young Black men that this school has produced and try to extend the legacy and dream of [former] coach [Buck] Godfrey in the community.”

Several people from the community and the alumni voiced their support for Wimes, but questioned whether he was the original candidate selected for the job.

Hours before the school announced the hiring of Wimes, news spread among alumni that another candidate—a Southwest DeKalb graduate—was offered the job and he accepted. A flyer had been distributed online announcing the other candidate as the new head coach.

Later that afternoon, The Champion received phone calls from alumni saying that the offer was rescinded from the candidate after someone from the alumni group went on a rant against the candidate and Southwest DeKalb Principal Thomas Glanton on Facebook, saying the candidate wasn’t a good hire and Glanton should be fired.


Southwest DeKalb PrincipalDr. Thomas Glanton, left, and new football coach Damien Wimes

Southwest DeKalb Principal Dr. Thomas Glanton, left, and new football coach Damien Wimes

In that Facebook conversation, which was viewed by employees of The Champion staff, Glantonresponded to the alumni member’s rant and asked to speak with him by phone. It was during that the conversation when word got out that the school hired Wimes.

Glanton told The Champion at the meet and greet that whatever announcement was made prior to the announcement of Wimes’ hiring was a rumor.

“We’re very clear on our process and we had this particular session today to announce who the head coach was,” Glanton said. “So whatever rumors or conjectures that was out there prior to today I’m not privy of that. I don’t know who created such a flyer.

“All I can speak on is who was selected as the head coach at Southwest DeKalb,” Glanton said when asked if someone else was offered the job. “We’re excited about moving forward with Coach Wimes and he’s going to be an excellent candidate.”

Wimes said he did not know if someone else was given the job before him.

“I just know I interviewed, I was called, I was offered the job and I accepted,” Wimes said. “That’s all I know. I’m just happy to be here.”

When asked when he was offered the job, Wimes said he received the offer the day of the announcement.

During the alumni session of the meet and greet, several people questioned Glanton about the hiring process and asked whether he offered another candidate the job and then rescinded the offer.

Glanton said he could not speak on the hiring process due to it being a personnel matter. 

“As an employee of DeKalb Schools, all I can share is that we made a decision of Coach Wimes and that’s who we’re going with. I cannot speak, as an employee, about any other candidate who has applied for the position.”

Alumni listens to Dr. Glanton's explanation of Wimes' hiring.

Alumni listens to Dr. Glanton’s explanation of Wimes’ hiring.

After the session, several alumni confirmed that they spoke with the other candidate who said he was offered the job first.

“I spoke to not only that particular candidate, but I talked to someone that understood and got firsthand news that he was appointed,” Jermaine Andrews said. “But it’s [Glanton’s] decision to make. He has the last call on that and there’s nothing we can do about it.

“We’re glad that Wimes is from Southwest DeKalb,” Andrews said. “He understands the tradition and the pride and we’re happy he got the job, but we like the first candidate too. I just think what happened is [Glanton] divided the alumni with that decision.”

Alumnus Danny Davidson said the other candidate was distraught about the situation.

“As he expressed to me this was a longtime job that he wanted,” Davidson said. “He said to me this morning that as a kid being here you think about being the coach here. And when you say that out loud, then it actually happens, it comes to fruition. He’s a little tore up, but he’s a Panther so he’ll bounce back.”

Davidson also expressed his support for Wimes.

“This alumni is strong, we will support him and we’re behind him 100 percent,” he said. “Whatever he needs, we’ll rally the community as we did when we were here at Southwest DeKalb.”

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