Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 28, 2013

Rally supports McPeeks

Dozens voice opinions about Fairview football situation

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

WESTWOOD — Just 24 hours before today’s school board meeting at Fairview, dozens met in the parking lot outside the football stadium to voice their opinions about a situation that has engulfed the community during the past week. The board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the high school library.

Fairview is under a Kentucky High School Athletic Association investigation that involves the potential eligibility of a student-athlete at the school. A ruling is expected soon, but there is no timetable.

The purpose of Sunday’s gathering was to display support for Nathan McPeek, Fairview’s football coach, and Garry McPeek, the high school’s former principal and athletic director who resigned and was reassigned to the elementary school as a physical education teacher last week.

Charletta Thovson, the mother of junior football player Logan, organized the rally.

Superintendent Bill Musick, who wasn’t present on Sunday, confirmed via text message that Nathan McPeek has resigned as football coach, effective at season’s end.

Neither Nathan nor Garry was present at Sunday’s rally.

Initially, some heated debate and finger-pointing took place among those seeking answers. Talmadge McPeek Jr., Nathan’s father, finally got the attention of the group and read aloud thoughts he had jotted down on paper.

He gave some advice to those who plan to attend the board meeting.

“The first negative comment you have, they’ll escort you out,” Talmadge McPeek said. “You need to state things positively. I don’t know why these decisions were made, but in the end, no decisions are going to be changed.”

Nancy McPeek, Nathan’s mother, and Kendra, Nathan’s sister, were also in attendance.

“I think it went really well,” Nancy McPeek said of the rally. “It’s good to see these supporters for Nathan and Garry.”

Christie Fitchpatrick, mother of senior player Aaron, received cheers and applause for her comments.

“They can take away our wins, but don’t take away our coaches,” said Fitchpatrick, referring to the KHSAA and the school board.

There is speculation Fairview may be stripped of wins by the KHSAA, but that is not confirmed.

Also present Sunday was the student-athlete thought to be in question. After transferring from another school following part of his junior year, he had to repeat his academic junior year at Fairview, starting the following fall. He did not play football at his previous school as a junior, but did at Fairview upon transferring, he said.

Whether or not he was eligible depends on academic requirement credits as outlined in KHSAA bylaws.

He said he was never informed he was ineligible during the past two seasons. He said he quit the team following Fairview’s 30-27 win over Hazard on Sept. 20 because he “wasn’t having fun doing it anymore. I was given the choice to get on the bus to go to Pike County Central if I still wanted to be part of the team, but I chose not to,” the 18-year-old said.

He added this about Nathan McPeek: “He’ll always be my coach. I hope the best for him and his family.”

When asked if this “bad situation,” as Nathan McPeek referred to it on Friday night, could divide the community, Fitchpatrick said she hoped not, but acknowledged the possibility.

“It really could … if we let it,” she said.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.