On Monday the Blanket ISD school board made the surprise decision to not renew football head coach and athletic director Brent Williamson’s contract at the end of the school year.
The move has spurred protests and social media reactions among some Blanket students and parents, who started the #KeepCoachWilliamson hashtag on Twitter and staged a demonstration outside the school. In his only season at the helm in Blanket, Williamson’s football team went 5-5 in a district with state-ranked teams Zephyr and Jonesboro.
On Thursday Blanket superintendent David Whisenhunt released a statement to the Bulletin about the dismissal.
“Normally I would just say ‘no comment,’ Whisenhunt said. “But today I will speak from my heart.
“Brent Williamson is a good man. I am certain that the Blanket school community knows how I feel about Brent. I have known Brent almost all his life and one of my sons had the opportunity to play on a state football team with Brent. I’ve known Brent to be a man of high moral character and integrity. He was attempting to bring to Blanket ISD athletic programs a strong disciplinary structure, with fairness, student acceptance of their role as it pertains to athletics, holding students to a higher standard and accountability for their actions. Brent has been a strong influence to the overall attitude of students.
“Although he has only been here a few months I have come to know Brent as one of the hardest working coaches I have ever worked with as exampled by his attempts to improve and expand facilities and incorporate new UIL sports into our athletic programs, which is providing more opportunities. Would I have liked to see Brent remain at Blanket ISD? YES. Many times life brings unexpected twists and turns our way and we have to deal with them as we are now at Blanket ISD.”
Reached on Thursday afternoon, Williamson admitted he was "really surprised" by the board's decision. "I love the kids, love the staff and love being here," Williamson said. "I'm really overwhelmed by the support from the students, staff and parents here. Blanket has amazing kids and an amazing staff.
"As far as the future goes, I don't know. I've put it in God's hands, and we'll see what happens."
On Twitter, Bobby Brinson voiced his disapproval. “Did the Blanket school board eat a bunch of tide pods or something?” he wrote. “Coach Williamson is a great coach and a great person and this whole deal smells fishy.”
Blanket football player Logan Wheeler wrote, “This is the definition of a man, a coach, a father and a rock to many of us. He’s the greatest thing Blanket ISD ever had and they fail to see that.”
The Bulletin has reached out to two Blanket ISD board members for comment.