Valdosta fires coach Rush Propst by 5-3 school board vote

Rush Propst led Valdosta to a 7-5 finish while reaching the Class 6A semifinals.
Rush Propst led Valdosta to a 7-5 finish while reaching the Class 6A semifinals.

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Valdosta City Schools board members voted 5-3 not to renew the contract of football coach Rush Propst on Tuesday night, ending a tumultuous one-year tenure marked by some of the severest sanctions ever levied on a school by the Georgia High School Association.

The school board’s decision during a regularly scheduled meeting streamed live on the district’s Facebook page came eight days after Valdosta failed in its appeal of $7,500 in fines, a 2021 football playoff ban, seven game forfeits and four junior football players declared ineligible in all sports. Valdosta plans another appeal next month.

Assistant coach Shelton Felton is now the interim head coach. Felton is a former head coach at Crisp County and college assistant, most recently at Tennessee.

Propst, one of the state’s most successful and controversial coaches, got the Valdosta job in April, 2020, and led the team to a 7-5 finish while reaching the Class 6A semifinals. But Valdosta began an investigation in February after its former Touchdown Club director, Michael “Nub’' Nelson, gave a Superior Court deposition, alleging that Propst had sought money to help potential transfer students secure housing.

An audio that Nelson recorded secretly also implicated Propst and was central to the GHSA’s ruling.

Propst, an Alabama native, has been a head coach for 31 seasons and won five state titles at Hoover in Alabama before coming to Georgia at Colquitt County in 2008. Propst led Colquitt to state titles in 2014 and 2015. Accused of misconduct there that he denied, Propst was forced out in Moultrie after the 2018 season despite a Class 7A runner-up finish.

The Valdosta drama has made national news because of the school’s football pedigree. Valdosta’s 939 football victories, now 932 after the forfeits, rank No. 1 all-time nationwide.

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