Columbia County school officials are investigating the unauthorized gift of Evans High School weight equipment to a private Richmond County high school.
The incident, which occurred mid-June, involved Evans athletes who were ordered to load one weight bench and five weight trees in a truck bound for Aquinas High School. Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price said the equipment was moved back to the county last Thursday.
"All that's back in our possession right now and we are trying to get statements from everyone who would have any information about this," Price said. "The bottom line is we did not follow the proper surplus procedures by any means. ... Obviously when you've got property and equipment, it's a serious matter. You want to make sure everything you do is above suspicion or impropriety, and I will certainly be holding those responsible accountable to that standard."
Price would not say who was involved in the incident. However, Evans athletic director Gail Connor is married to Aquinas head football coach Jim Connor, a former Evans High athletic director and head football coach. Jim Connor, who coached last year at North Augusta High School, replaced Marty Jackson at Aquinas after Jackson was hired in March as Evans' head football coach.
A telephone message left at the Connor home Friday afternoon was not immediately returned.
Jackson downplayed the value of the equipment.
"It was weight trees, equipment that holds weights, that we had in storage and weren't being used," he said.
However, Evans assistant football coach and strength-training coach Dave Machovec said he was not consulted before the equipment was removed.
"I was a bit surprised that coach (Rodney) Garvin and I were not asked if we would be using the equipment in storage anytime in the near future, since we supervise the weight room during the school year and summer months," he said. "When the equipment was being moved from the field house, it never crossed my mind that the proper channels for loaning the equipment had not been followed."
An internal auditor was sent to the school last week. Price said he plans to wrap up the investigation soon.
"When you violate a board policy, there has to be repercussions," Price said. "Everyone is expected to know board policy and follow board policy and when you don't, you have to be accountable for that."
School board member Lee Muns, who said he was contacted by parents of students who helped load the equipment, has asked for school officials to throw the book at those involved. Since March, Muns has been a vocal opponent of the firing of former Evans coach Lee Chomskis and Jackson's hiring as his replacement.
"They were concerned why that equipment was being given away and why it was not being offered to a feeder middle school," Muns said. "There have been other incidents in the past that have been of a lesser nature and we have taken very serious action toward those people. I'm looking for our administration to take the same, if not more serious action, against those involved in this incident."
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