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Former Shiloh coach disputes investigation

Brian Montgomery

Brian Montgomery

On Thursday former Shiloh head football coach Brian Montgomery disputed the investigation that led to him losing his job, insisting he never recruited any players from his previous school, North Atlanta.

Gwinnett County Public Schools announced earlier this week that it would not renew Montgomery's contract because of the alleged recruiting violations, which became an issue when the Georgia High School Association contacted Shiloh "requesting information to help the GHSA with its investigation." On Thursday, the coach submitted his resignation.

The GHSA investigation began after a first-person story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Shiloh sophomore Wil Larimore, who transferred from North Atlanta after Montgomery was hired at Shiloh. A sentence early in the story read, "when (Montgomery) took the head coaching job at Shiloh, he asked several of us to transfer." The line was enough to spark the GHSA inquiry.

Montgomery took issue with the accuracy of that story. He sent the Daily Post two versions of Latimore's first-person story, a first draft and a second draft. One version read "when (Montgomery) took the head coaching job at Shiloh, it seemed the obvious place to transfer." The other read, "when (Montgomery) took the head coaching job at Shiloh, four of us decided to transfer."

Montgomery said he resigned from his GCPS position on Thursday out of necessity to keep the non-renewed contract issue off his permanent record.

"I just want all the facts of the situation out there and not just one side of it," Montgomery said. "Wil Latimore did not say that. I have the originals that the parents sent out and it's different from what the editor wrote. I've got the first draft and the second draft and Wil Latimore did not say that."

Montgomery said he never asked any of his former players at North Atlanta to join him at Shiloh. Four North Atlanta players did transfer, including Vanderbilt signee Stephen Weatherly, but the coach said they made their decisions without any prompting from him.

"I did not recruit any of them," said Montgomery, who was 2-8 in his only season as Shiloh's coach. "It's all based on this article by Wil Latimore. I didn't have to recruit Wil Latimore. I don't even have the capabilities to recruit. We were 7-3 at North Atlanta and coming to a Shiloh team that was 1-9. For a student to leave a 7-3 team for a 1-9 team, it had something to do with more than athletics. Academics have to play a part in it."

Montgomery also addressed a lingering question about the eligibility of the North Atlanta transfers. He said those players each made a "bonafide move," a GHSA term for a transfer who is eligible after a proper move.

"Once again, I don't do eligibility," Montgomery said. "If there's a question about eligibility, that's not me. We've had more than one AD and the AD had to sign off on all of this. If there was a question about eligibility, it should have been caught then."

The events of the last few weeks have left Shiloh in a lurch again. The high school already is in need of a new athletic director -- longtime Gwinnett administrator Mike Phillips took over earlier this month as Shiloh's interim AD until a permanent replacement is hired -- and now it needs a head football coach.

Montgomery is in a tough situation, too. He went to the emergency room Tuesday with complications from diverticulitis and had a consultation Thursday for surgery to remove part of his colon. Now those health issues are accompanied by professional ones.

He still plans to be a head football coach and expects to begin searching for a new job immediately.

"No doubt (I want to coach again)," Montgomery said. "I didn't want to leave Shiloh. We were making progress. We have 100 kids coming to the weight room every day. We're building something. And the main thing is what's happening to these kids.

"As coaches, we act as a father, we act as a brother, we act as a best friend to these kids. We're mentoring them. We're counseling them. We're monitoring their grades on a weekly basis so they can go to college. We've helped them with a lot of things."