Anthony Hines walked out of the Central gym Monday afternoon with a smile on his face.
Hines laughed, joked and said his hellos and goodbyes to a few students as he left the campus. His face showed no signs of the difficult conversation that took place in the gym a few minutes earlier.
Hines told an emotional Central football team why he resigned a few hours earlier after nine years as the Chargers’ athletics director and head football coach.
“He was in pretty good spirits, but the kids took it pretty hard,” Central assistant coach Brent Thornton said. “Some of them were upset.”
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Hines resigned Monday afternoon amid an investigation about the mishandling of a student’s eligibility to participate in football. Thornton, the team’s offensive coordinator, will take over as the interim head coach.
“I wanted (the Central football players) to know I did the right thing,” said Hines, who at nine years had the longest tenure of any Bibb County head football coach. “I wanted to tell them that in life you own up to your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions. That’s what a man does.”
Hines, who was placed on administrative leave with pay for two weeks, said one of his players failed a doctor’s physical examination because of asthma. Without a physical clearing him for practice, the player wasn’t allowed to participate in football. Hines said he didn’t catch the failed physical due to a mix-up in paperwork, and he allowed the player to travel to football camp in Camp Hill, Ala. in late July.
Hines said the player got sick early in camp, and the coaching staff concentrated on re-hydrating the player. The player returned to action later in camp, and he again struggled to stay well during practice. Hines said he “shut down” the player for the rest of camp, keeping him cool and keeping him hydrated.
“We were worried about the kid’s safety,” said Hines, who estimated the player participated in practice for about 45 minutes total during a five-day stretch.
When Central returned from the camp, the player was diagnosed with heat exhaustion after being taken to the hospital by family members. Hines said the player is now doing fine.
Hines was placed on leave Aug. 9, seven days after returning from camp. The school board’s investigators interviewed Hines and his coaches to determine further action. The investigation is ongoing, according to a news release by the Bibb County school district. The school district said it wouldn’t provide details until the investigation is complete.
Central principal Jeff Homan didn’t return a message left on his voicemail.
“The responsibility was on me,” Hines said. “I made a bad mistake. It was in my best interest to step down.”
Hines went 34-57 in nine seasons as the head coach at Central. The Chargers went 2-8 in 2010.
Hines said he didn’t believe he was done coaching. He will probably sit out the rest of the school year and then hope to catch on somewhere next year, he said.
Central, however, moves on with its season opener just four days away. The Chargers host Towers on Friday at Henderson Stadium.
Thornton has served as the interim head coach during Hines’ absence. Thornton filled the same role two years ago when Hines suffered a stroke prior to the start of the season.
Thornton said this circumstance is a little different, because the players and coaches didn’t really have a feel for the outcome.
“It was a shock,” said Thornton, who came with Hines to Central from Southwest in 2002. “Your head coach is just taken away from school right after you get back from camp. It’s a tough adjustment. The staff is still here, and we’ve been together for a while. But I’m not sure the kids will move past it. They loved Coach Hines, and this will probably linger most of the season.”