Originally created 02/24/01

Coach Campbell to stay



Lincoln County High School athletics director Larry Campbell, Georgia's winningest active football coach, has decided to remain at the school.

The 52-year-old head coach had considered a similar position at Franklin County High School, a Class AAA school in northeast Georgia. But Friday morning, Campbelldeclined the offer.

"It was easy to talk about leaving a place you've been for 31 years," Campbell said.

"But getting up and doing it was another thing. We were very, very close to going, but my wife hit on some very good points. I don't apologize to anybody for going to look, because it is a very attractive part of the state to live in."

Campbell has a 337-51-3 record, nine state titles and 24 region championships in 29 seasons. He needs 10 victories to break Lincolnton native Dan Pitts' state record of 346.

"Sometime in the next two, three or four years and if we have a chance to set the record, that record doesn't belong to Larry Campbell, it belongs to Lincoln County High School, the community and, most importantly, the assistant coaches."

Had Campbell taken the position at Franklin County, he wouldn't have received a pay increase, because he officially retired from teaching last year but continued to coach.

As a retired state employee, Campbell makes 49 percent of his salary and works 19 hours per week. He said he was irate when he heard that some members of the community thought he would take the position for a bigger salary.

Fans and media had speculated for the past week that Campbell already had taken the position. The Campbells had talked of building a house, and they put their house up for sale earlier this year. The house sold within a week of being put on the market, prompting even more speculation.

"It was a situation that snowballed because the very time I went up there and talked (at Franklin County), my house sold," Campbell said. "It went on the Internet that our house had sold, and everybody started assuming.

"I wish now I would have never came into this situation. It did more harm than it did good."

Randall Edmunds, superintendent of Lincoln County schools, said he was excited Campbell decided to stay in Lincolnton.

"I'm happy that decision has been made," Edmunds said. "But we realize that someone with his record and stature, people are interested in offering him job opportunities. We're fortunate to have a person of his ability in our school system, and we want him to stay. I'm happy with his decision."

Franklin County recently built a baseball field and plans to make major renovations in the rest of its athletic program.

Campbell said the Franklin County position will be a lucrative job for somebody, just not him.

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or timmorse@augustachronicle.com