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Controversial HS Coach Out Amid Recruiting Allegations

Paul Steinbach

The Valdosta (Ga.) Board of Education voted 5-3 Tuesday to not renew the contract of football coach Rush Propst, who was placed on administrative leave after evidence suggested he had recruited players and their families to move to Valdosta and then solicited money to help pay their living expenses.

As reported by ESPN, the Georgia High School Association on April 13 levied a $7,500 fine against Valdosta High School, ordered the Wildcats to forfeit seven victories from the 2020 football season, banned the team from playing in the postseason in 2021 and declared a handful of players ineligible for next season after an investigation into whether the team used ineligible players.

The GHSA investigation was the result of comments made by Propst during a secretly recorded conversation he had with former booster club executive director Michael "Nub" Nelson in May, in which Propst indicated he needed "funny money" to help pay for living expenses for players' families who wanted to move to Valdosta.

The GHSA had already required Valdosta to forfeit one of its 2020 wins after declaring star quarterback Jake Garcia ineligible. Garcia transferred to Valdosta from Narbonne High School in Los Angeles last summer, after California delayed the start of its football season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Garcia played only one game for the Wildcats before the GHSA ruled that he and his family hadn't made a bona fide move. He has since committed to the University of Miami.

Propst, 63, has been one of the most successful and controversial high school coaches in the country, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach. After winning five state championships at Hoover High School in Alabama, Propst announced his resignation in October 2007, effective at the end of that season, after an investigation alleged improprieties in his program and concluded that he had quietly supported a second family in another town. Propst, who was married with children at the time, eventually divorced his wife and married the woman with whom he shared his secret life, ESPN reported.

He coached at Colquitt County High School in Georgia from 2008 to 2018, when he was unanimously dismissed over ethics concerns, before serving as a volunteer consultant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for one year.

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