VALDOSTA, Ga. — No one was swayed.
After a highly anticipated revote on Tuesday, Alan Rodemaker is officially out as the head coach of the Valdosta Wildcats.
Mirroring the initial vote on Jan. 28, the Valdosta Board of Education voted 5-4 against Rodemaker's retention as head coach.
While the recommendation was made to keep the coach at the Feb. 11 meeting, it did not pass yet again.
School board members who voted in favor of keeping Rodemaker were Kelly Wilson, Stacy Bush, Trey Sherwood and Tad Moseley.
Those opposed were Warren Lee, Liz Shumphard, Tyra Howard, Debra Bell and Kelisa Brown. These were the exact votes made at the Jan. 28 meeting.
Rodemaker posted a 36-17 record in four years as head coach at Valdosta, leading the Wildcats to a state championship in 2016 –– the first state championship since 1998. This past season, Rodemaker led Valdosta to a 10-3 record and the team's second straight Class 6A state quarterfinal appearance.
The Valdosta Performing Arts Center where Tuesday's meeting was held was packed, the majority of which came to support Rodemaker.
At the beginning of the meeting, board member Lee asked to amend the agenda, requesting that the item regarding Rodemaker be removed from the agenda.
This sparked a discussion from Wilson.
“Voters and concerned citizens should consider this when picking their school board,” Wilson said. “Sometimes the only way to fix a toxic relationship is to end it.”
The motion to strike the item from the agenda did not pass with a vote of 5-4, and the meeting proceeded as usual. Wilson, Bush, Sherwood, Moseley and Bell voted to keep the item on the agenda for consideration.
The Board allowed everyone who signed up for public participation to speak for the allotted five minutes and almost all speakers gave only praise for the coach and condemned the BOE for its previous vote.
Rodemaker and his attorney Sam Dennis both spoke during the public participation portion of the meeting.
“I am fully invested in Valdosta High School and I will stay that way,” Rodemaker said during his public participation.
The Board then entered into an executive session while the crowd waited anxiously for a second vote. Upon returning, the second vote turned out exactly the same as the first, and the crowd erupted in boos.
Rodemaker and his wife Leah stood in the front of the auditorium visibly upset while numerous people stopped by to shake his hand and give their words of encouragement.
However, according to Dennis, this fight isn't over.
“They have not renewed a coach that the community overwhelmingly supports and loves. They have ripped apart a successful football program that is way bigger than just football games and Friday nights,” Dennis said. “They have destroyed something that was positive and unifying in our community. They should say why, but there is no valid reason. It's a sad day in our community.”
Dennis added that they will now pursue legal action as a way to remedy this issue through the court system and will be figuring out exactly what they want to file.