Update: Valdosta coach says firing was unjust, will fight for job

Alan Rodemaker, fired on Tuesday as Valdosta’s football coach, says that his dismissal was unjust and that he’ll consider all options toward getting his job back, including a legal challenge.

The Valdosta school board voted 5-4 to fire Rodemaker despite the team’s 10-3 finish in 2019 and a 36-17 overall record in four seasons. In 2016, Rodemaker’s first as head coach, Valdosta won its first state title in 18 years.

“I’ve never been reprimanded, never been called on the carpet for anything by my superiors, never been told what I didn’t do right,” Rodemaker told AJC.com. “I just got voted out. Nobody’s given me a reason.”

School board officials have declined to discuss Rodemaker’s firing publicly, calling it a personnel issue.

Rodemaker said he was concerned that the board vote went along racial lines. The five who voted to dismiss Rodemaker, who is white, were African-Americans. They are Debra Bell, Kelisa Brown, Warren Lee, Liz Shumphard and Tyra Howard. The four who voted to retain Rodemaker were white. They are Stacy Bush, Kelly Wilson, Trey Sherwood and Tad Moseley.

Rodemaker said he was aware of Tuesday’s vote but didn’t attend and assumed that he’d be retained. Rodemaker said he was supported by his superintendent and principal.

“I had no real inkling that I could lose my job last night [Tuesday],” Rodemaker said. “I wasn’t given notice that [his job status] was an issue. That’s the part that really bothers me. ... I’ve never had a conversation with those board members. They’re not parents of any player. It’s really unbelievable how something like this in 2020 can happen.”

Valdosta has won 24 state titles, the most of any Georgia program. Valdosta has 932 victories all-time, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. That ranks No. 1 nationally.

The program had continued to win but not reached previous levels this century. Valdosta’s nine playoff victories under Rodemaker are the most over a four-year span since 1995-98.

Rodemaker’s departure marks at second time that Valdosta has fired a coach who won a state title. In 2002, Valdosta parted ways with Mike O’Brien, whose eight-year record was 70-20-1.

Rodemaker was Valdosta’s defensive coordinator for six seasons under Rance Gillespie before he was promoted to head coach.

Rodemaker’s son, Tate, recently committed to Florida State. He passed for 3,234 yards and 43 touchdowns and was named first-team all-state.