With complaints coming in from parents of student-athletes from Douglas, Ala., after head football coach Jamison Wadley instructed players to do bear crawls on asphalt leading to some injury, Marshall County Schools superintendent Cindy Wigley is standing behind her coach’s right to prescribe physical discipline.
While some parents in the area agreed that such methods are a prudent way to instill players with the determination they need to succeed, others — such as football parent Stephen Stone — were disturbed by circulating images of the players’ hands following the drill.
“It’s horrible. It hurts me just to see them,” Stone told WHNT. “I want the school to do something to assure the parents that their children can go to school and be safe.”
Superintendent Wigley released an official statement to address the incident, which read in part, “I want to address a situation at Douglas High School that occurred yesterday. Due to rumors and talk, it has gotten out of control. It's my job to help you understand what has happened. A situation took place early yesterday morning. It involved a coach and some players. It was brought to my attention and I have addressed the situation. Unfortunately, since that time, an individual outside our school, specifically a parent, has become involved. This has threatened the safety of our coach, players and other parents at the school. I will not tolerate threats, harassment or physical abuse against any of our staff or students.
“While there were unintended consequences from the coach’s actions, students must also be held accountable for their actions. Knowing all the facts about what has occurred, I want the community to know that I support our coach, who wants nothing but the best for our student athletes and the school he serves. I have asked sheriff's deputies to help patrol the Douglas High School campus to keep our students, staff and parents safe. I will continue to do so. Please help me do all I can to keep our students in a safe and friendly environment. Help me protect our students by helping manage rumors and talk that is unhealthy. Thank you.”
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office told the press that it has taken incident reports and is reviewing the allegations.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association does not have specific guidelines regarding discipline, but does set boundaries regarding player contact and heat safety.