Report: Propst fired for giving pills, back taxes, losing control of team

Rush Propst was fired as Colquitt County football coach this week because a school board investigation found he committed ethics violations that included giving pills to students, interfering with the hiring of a principal, owing over $400,000 in state and federal income taxes and losing control of the team, the Moultrie Observer reported Friday, drawing from a report received through a Georgia Open Records request.

Propst provided over-the-counter pills to students several times, dating to 2010, despite being advised against it, the newspaper reported. It was unclear if any of the medicines were prescription.

Also at issue was the behavior of the Colquitt County football team after the 2018 state-championship game against Milton. According to the investigation, most did not stay on the field to shake hands with Milton players, one starter left for the locker room before the game ended, and another argued and cursed with an assistant coach heading into the tunnel at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, site of the game. Sheriff’s officers reportedly came to quell the chaotic post-game locker room. Milton won 14-13 in what most considered a major upset.

“Let it be said that, in my opinion, the totality of the evidence and facts in this case support the conclusion that Rush Propst has not upheld the dignity and integrity of the education profession that the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators demands,’’ wrote Colquitt County school superintendent Doug Howell, who headed up the report.

Propst was fired Thursday by unanimous vote of the board of education. Propst had been suspended with pay since Feb. 26.

His firing ends of of the most successful runs of a Georgia head coach in the highest classification.

Propst’s record at Colquitt County was 119-35 in 11 seasons. His teams won state titles in 2014 and 2015, each time with a 15-0 record, and was the Class AAAAAAA runner-up the past two seasons. The Packers reached the semifinals or better nine of the past 10 seasons, the best run of consistency of its kind in the history of Georgia’s highest class.

Prior to coming to Colquitt, Propst won five state titles as the coach of Hoover, Ala., and has 295 career victories in 30 seasons. He became nationally known while at Hoover because of the MTV series ‘’Two-A-Days,’’ which followed Hoover’s 2005 and 2006 seasons.

The Hoover program was hit with allegations of grade-fixing and recruiting, though none was officially tied to Propst. He resigned during 2007 a school board meeting in which he admitted an extramarital affair and supporting a secretive second family but denied any professional wrongdoing.

Propst arrived at Colquitt after the Packers had suffered a 2-8 season. Propst’s first team was 4-6, but then reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1998. The 2014 state title was the school’s first since 1994.

In 2016, Propst was suspended by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission after he head-butted one of his players on the sidelines of a playoff game. The suspension was later reduced to a reprimand, and he did not miss any games.