April 11, 2017 10:12:22 AM
The Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved Anthony Carlyle to be the new boys basketball coach at Columbus High School on Monday night at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
"Coach Carlyle is young, ambitious, and successful coach," CMSD Board of Trustees President Jason Spears. "From all of the details I looked at in his tenure at Velma Jackson, he starts with off-court teaching and strengthening his team off the court before he gets between the lines to show their abilities. I think that is what has helped him be successful in coaching basketball."
Carlyle led Velma Jackson to 46-32 victory against Cleveland East Side in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 3A State championship game on March 10 at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. Mississippi State signee Nikolas Weatherspoon had 18 points to lead Velma Jackson to its fourth title in five years. Weatherspoon is the brother of MSU guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who led Velma Jackson to the Class 3A State titles as a senior, junior, and sophomore.
Carlyle, who couldn't be reached by press time, replaces Gary Griffin, who led Columbus to a 16-13 record and the MHSAA Class 6A State tournament this past season. Carlyle will be the school's fourth coach in four years.
"I think coach Griffin did a great job leading the team and helping rebuild after the championship year," said Spears, who added it would be up to Carlyle if he wanted to retain Griffin as a member of his coaching staff. "His experience and insight have continued to strengthen our program. ... I think his presence will continue to pay dividends as we go forward."
Per the board agenda, Carlyle was approved as a physical education teacher with a AA scale (master's degree) of $41,400 and a $2,000 Columbus Municipal School District supplement. He also was approved as an athletic supervisor. ($3,100), head cross country coach ($1,500), and head powerlifting coach ($1,200).
The board also approved a recommendation for off-contract work for Carlyle that is slated to begin today and run through July 28. The work would pay him $228 a day for 37 days. Spears said the money to pay for the off-contract work would be taken from unused athletic supplements from this school year. He said Carlyle was given the work to help him familiarize himself with his players and the facilities and to make it easier for him when he is slated for his official start date Aug. 2.
Columbus High Athletic Director Sammy Smith declined to comment because he didn't attend the board meeting.
Messages left for CMSD Superintendent Philip Hickman on Tuesday morning at his office and on his cell phone weren't returned by press time.
In 2015-16, Velma Jackson lost to eventual Class 3A State champion Kemper County 43-41 in the semifinals.
Carlyle informed the team prior to the start of the 2016-17 season this would be his last year with the program.
In August 2016, Griffin was named interim boys basketball coach to replace Luther Riley. Griffin also was given an athletic supervisor supplement and was the school's cross country coach.
Griffin was named interim boys basketball coach after Indianola Gentry High boys basketball coach Alfrico "Chico" Potts turned down the Columbus High job. Last July, the CMSD Board of Trustees voted to approve Potts for a teaching position slotted for $41,270 at Columbus High and a $9,400 supplement for him to be the school's boys basketball coach. The move set the stage for Potts to replace Riley, who led Columbus High to a 37-33 victory against Starkville on March 12, 2016, in the MHSAA Class 6A State title game. It was the program's first state championship.
But the board previously voted to void Riley's employment contract because he failed to sign it within 10 days of receiving it. The board voted to re-hire Riley as a teacher without a coaching supplement. A motion to bring Riley back as the school's boys basketball coach failed, as did a motion to remove Potts' name from the list of coaching supplements up for approval.
Last month, Columbus High junior Robert Woodard II was named the 2016-17 Gatorade Mississippi Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Woodard was the first Gatorade Mississippi Boys Basketball Player of the Year to be chosen from the school. The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, high standards of academic achievement, and exemplary character on and off the court.
Woodard II, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound junior guard, averaged 25.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and three blocked shots per game. A first-team All-State selection and a two-time member of The Clarion-Ledger Dandy Dozen, he is a former member of the USA Basketball Men's Under-16 National Team. He also was named USA TODAY's ALL-USA Mississippi Player of the Year as a sophomore.
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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