The Georgia High School Association and its executive director, Dr. Ralph Swearngin, cleared the Lowndes High football team of allegations that its coaching staff stole offensive signals from Colquitt County during a game last month.
The Vikings are no longer under investigation.
The Lowndes County School System administration was informed of the GHSA’s decision by Dr. Swearngin shortly after lunch on Tuesday.
“We received a letter from Dr. Swearngin stating that the GHSA is not taking any action against Lowndes High School,” Lowndes County Superintendent Wes Taylor said in a statement. “In his letter, Dr. Swearngin explained that the GHSA is obligated to investigate complaints from member schools, and he emphasized, “I do not believe that the involvement of the GHSA Office should be viewed as an accusation of guilty.”
As Swearngin explained to the Times, there are no rules prohibiting any actions made by the Vikings during their game against Colquitt County on Sept. 28 in Moultrie.
“Number one, there is no playing rule that covers this, there is no GHSA by-law that covers this,” Swearngin said. “What would have to happen is, we would have to see verifiable evidence that an ethics violation occurred. We looked at video that was given to us, information given to us by both schools and we finally decided there was nothing in there that would determine an ethics violation was made by Lowndes High School.”
The GHSA was investigating whether the Vikings stole Colquitt County’s offensive signals during their 17-14 win over the Packers. The allegations were brought forth by Packers head coach Rush Propst, who accused the Viking coaches of using former Packer and current Thomas County Central middle school coach Buzz Payne to steal signals during the game.
Propst said Payne used binoculars to watch Colquitt County’s sideline to determine whether the Packers were preparing to run or pass. He then relayed that information to Lowndes coaches in the press box, according to Propst’s allegations.
“There are no rules that prohibit one coach from one school talking to another coach from another school,” Swearngin said.
For full details, see Wednesday's edition of the Times-Enterprise.