Most anyone who has ever been involved in scholastic athletics, regardless of sport or function, remembers the ‘AD’ at the school. He or she was the one person who was there before the game, and again long after the doors or gates were locked. Lee County has enjoyed a long legacy of strong ADs that has included Paul Gay, John Green, Sonny Yow, and now Steve Womack and Tammy Batten. If it weren’t for them and their many Assistant ADs over these many years, we might well have missed all of those football, basketball, baseball, golf, and gymnastic championships that are celebrated among the many banners in the gyms and on the trophy shelves. There wouldn’t be this community pride and sense of accomplishment that has permeated through Sanford and Lee County these many decades, long before Dr. Jeff Moss became Superintendent of the LCSS and before this BOE came into being. But it is this BOE and their hired man, Dr. Moss, who plan to end that legacy.
At first glance Dr. Moss has the look of a former athlete and coach. After all, many school administrators came from the ranks of teaching coaches; we’ve had many in this county over the years. But what kind of coach, or former athlete, someone who knows the value of scholastic activities and the impact those activities have on the lives of students and the schools for whom they participate, would ever use them as bargaining chips. Dr. Moss does, but then he might not have been either a coach or an athlete and really doesn’t value that whole extracurricular thing that has been proven out in study after study. Extracurricular activity participants simply do better in school. So why would a school system superintendent not value them as well? Why would he consistently use athletics as a bargaining chip?
There’s an old adage in negotiating strategies, ‘never bargain a position or an item you aren’t willing to lose’. Dr. Moss seems willing to bargain away these programs at every turn. The budget rhetoric heated up two months ago with the whispers coming from within the LCSS that first middle school athletic programs would be axed. Shortly thereafter when the commissioners and others began to question the amounts that would save, all athletic programs were put out on the chopping block. Again, the rhetoric ratcheted up, but how much would those cuts save? Not a whole lot! So when it looks like the desired effect wasn’t going to be reached, it’s announced that the programs were going to be saved, but the athletic directors were going to be cut their extended pay, and that their assistants and their middle school counterparts were not going to be paid for their efforts. Again, how much does that save? Not much! So why do it? That’s a question that only Dr. Moss can answer.
So why Dr. Moss, are these programs and these people negotiating pieces? Is this Stanly County and Coaches Gaster and Morris all over again? Is this your way of telling the commissioners and the taxpaying public that if you can’t get your way, you’ll hurt people in the process as a way to say, ‘so there!’? You did it in Stanly County. Of course, you did want to have a County AD to supervise the two high school programs from the Heins Building. This county didn’t need that, but it does need Tammy Batten and Steve Womack, as well as the assistants and their middle school counterparts. So who needs athletic directors? Lee County does!