Search to replace Heaton heats up

Published 9:00pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

As the days for spring football practice continue to disappear, the search for a new athletic director and head football coach at Escambia County High School continues with the latest update being the formation of a committee to find a replacement for the departed Mark Heaton.

A five-person committee that includes ECHS Principal Zickeyous Byrd looks to begin the search on Friday and move swiftly to find the new leader for ECHS athletic programs.

The choice to lead the search with a committee came in a decision between Byrd and Escambia County Superintendent Randall Little earlier this week.

“Athletics is something that is huge for the community,” Byrd said. “It brings the community together and affects our students in a large way. With something so big, we want the community involved and hear suggestions and ideas from members of the area because it’s a community job.”

In terms of the committee members, finding people with a community presence was important for the search.

The community surrounding ECHS needs to know that this committee is taking the search with the school’s and students’ interest at heart, Byrd said.

“We feel as though that we have searched long and hard,” he said. “We have people that are already involved in athletics and that are always here around the programs. They need to know that the people that are on the committee are looking out for the best interest of our students and student-athletes.”

A planned meeting for Friday to look over candidates will be the first step with interviews scheduled to be held next Monday and Tuesday. As of Tuesday, approximately 20 applicants had submitted resumes to be reviewed by committee members.

The hope is to have a name to present to the Board of Education next Thursday.

Dealing with this issue quickly is important for the football team as well as for keeping a focus on the end of the academic school year, Byrd said.

“It’s extremely important that we have a name next week because we need this process to be swift,” he said. “Our community, especially our students, need to be focused on academics over the next few weeks, so getting someone in place quickly is important. It’s also needed because spring training is currently ongoing and there are other off season needs that the football team will have. Also, a coach is needed to come in and help find coaches for the positions that need to be filled.”

In regards to spring training, practices will continue under the leadership of ECHS Assistant Football Coach Karl Smith.

With another search taking place just two years after Heaton was hired, questions from players have been fielded by Byrd and Heaton, Byrd said.

“They have had questions and concerns about getting back on the field,” he said. “They are just excited about getting back on the field. They were saddened with coach Heaton leaving, but we spoke with them and told them that we would carry on and next season will be a great one.”

Editor's Picks