North Hall girls basketball coach Debbie Blake has been fired from her job as teacher and coach, multiple sources told The Times on Tuesday.
Blake, who amassed a 50-43 record in four years as coach at North Hall, was dismissed from her positions Thursday morning before school began, according to sources.
"She’s packed her stuff up and hasn’t been at school since last Thursday," said North Hall senior Letiecia Davenport, a basketball player who completed her eligibility in 2008.
The dismissal stems from an apparent violation of a Georgia High School Association rule prohibiting coaches from talking to their players while they are participating in spring league games conducted without involvement from the school.
School board spokesman Gordon Higgins wouldn’t comment on whether Blake had been fired. He said an announcement on Blake’s status may be issued as early as today.
Typically, the Hall County Board of Education has final authority on hirings and firings. The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 12.
Blake would not comment for this story.
Current players met Monday with assistant coach Suzanne Williams and Tuesday with principal Gary Brown, several players confirmed. The players spoke with The Times on the condition that they not be identified.
Brown told the team Blake was fired because she broke the GHSA rule, the players said. The players also said Williams assured them that training plans for the summer would continue.
Brown also said he will work closely with incoming North Hall principal Joe Gheesling in the next three weeks to find a replacement for Blake. Brown is retiring July 1.
According to sources, Blake’s dismissal was a result of a conversation she had with a North Hall player prior to a game in a Suwanee spring basketball league.
The varsity prep spring basketball league, held at the Suwanee Sports Academy, is an offseason, eight-game league for existing varsity and junior varsity prep basketball teams in North Georgia.
A GHSA spokesman said such a communication between coach and player would violate a new association rule.
"At one of these spring leagues, a coach can be a spectator, but if he talks to a player at the game they are in violation of GHSA rules," said Gary Phillips of the GHSA.
"They can talk to the player the next day at school because we can’t control them 24-7, but if they talk to the player at the game that is outside the rules of GHSA."
The players said Williams, a varsity assistant who also serves as the junior varsity head coach, will serve as interim coach until a replacement is found.
Blake has been the coach for North Hall since the 2003-2004 season. Prior to coming to the Lady Trojans, she was coach of the girls team at South Forsyth High School. She led her teams to four straight state tournament appearances and a 2007 Lanierland Championship.
Sports editor Brent Holloway contributed to this report.