I’m still dumbfounded by what a former Huntsville football coach and the current Elkins coach did recently.
As we’ve been reporting, former Huntsville coach Randy Barnhill – who at the time was dean of students at Huntsville High – sent a series of text messages to Bryan Hutson, the Elkins head football coach. The messages, sent in the week leading up to the Elkins at Huntsville game, gave insights to Eagle players, the team’s formations, how coaches signal plays and more.
I covered a high school team in south Arkansas for 20 years, including the years they won state championships, so I’m no stranger to local sports.
The text messages from Barnhill were found on the football team’s iPad. The Huntsville School Board met on Monday, Sept. 23, in a special meeting for two and one-half hours, but refused to state the purpose of the closed session as required by the Freedom of Information Act. The school board reassembled and took no action. Barnhill the next day was escorted from the HHS campus and resigned his job.
Elkins School District Superintendent Jeremy Mangrum delivered a letter to Hutson concerning the text messages.
“This letter results from your text messages with Huntsville School District employee, Randy Barnhill, concerning the high school football game between Elkins and Huntsville,” it reads. “Based on these improper communications, I will be recommending to the Board that you be suspended without pay from your teaching and coaching duties with the Elkins School District for a period of five (5) working days.”
The news of a former coach sending information to a buddy made a small splash around the state, and even made the national news for a second. According to the Arkansas Activities Association, the organization received just a few comments about the situation.
As you can understand, a lot of parents of current players were very upset over the news. One person on our Facebook story wrote, “Back stabbing treason from Barnhill, and teaching kids to cheat from the Elkins coach. More than disappointing.” Another wrote, “Elkins just sat (sic) a precedence, for unethical behavior for future faculty/student instances. What a poor example!!”
Barnhill was removed as head football coach back in January and was replaced by defensive coordinator Matt Williams. Huntsville lost 35-0 to Elkins, then fell 52-0 at Greenbrier. I’m sure the student athletes on the football team, the managers and coaches all felt as if they had been stabbed in the back or kicked in the gut.
If Barnhill were a former coach with a grudge who was working in the private sector – and decided to share information – that would be one thing. But he was still employed by the Huntsville School District as dean of students, a mentor to those at the high school.
Barnhill has not responded to numerous requests by The Record for an interview.
I thought Williams made a very classy comment when asked about the situation.
“I think everything we went through, I think that’s over ... We’re just going to move on and do what we do,” Williams told me three days after the Greenbrier game.
“It just makes you mad. I’m a grown man, you can say what you want about me and do what you want to me, but those are kids, so they don’t deserve that.”