published Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Simmons leaves McCallie to lead Gordon Lee

Bubba Simmons has resigned his position as athletic director at the McCallie School and has accepted the job as principal at Gordon Lee High School in Chickamauga, Ga. Jeff Romero, who was an assistant director of communications at McCallie, has been hired to succeed Simmons and will be interim AD for the upcoming school year.

Simmons lives in Chickamauga, has daughters who teach elementary school in the area and also has grandchildren in the Gordon Lee school system. He said it took "something pretty attractive" to get him to leave McCallie.

Simmons moved from head football coach to AD at McCallie in 2008. Including previous time spent there, Simmons worked at McCallie for nearly 20 years. During his first stint, Pete Potter was head football coach and his son Ralph, now the head coach for a second time, was a player.

"You can't spend as much time as I did and up and leave without thinking back on the good years we had there," Simmons said. "Being able to come back as AD, and Ralph coming back to coach, it's been a really good experience. But I'm also excited and looking forward to moving on to Gordon Lee High School. I appreciated the support of the department of education administrators and board members and for giving me this opportunity."

Before being hired by McCallie's communication department in 2008, Romero spent time working in the athletic offices at the University of Tennessee, the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His concentration has been in sports information and communication.

"We are fortunate to have someone on staff with extensive experience in athletic administration," associate headmaster and upper school head Kenny Sholl said in a school release, "and I am grateful for his willingness to serve in this important role."

Romero said new headmaster Lee Burns and Sholl work together on administrative issues and they contacted him Tuesday about the opening. Romero will be working on a trial basis but said he hopes to be able to continue as the school's AD.

Simmons not only endorses the selection of his successor, he added that with his background Romero is the right person for the job right now.

"I'm honored, first of all, that the administration has enough confidence in me to consider me for this important role," Romero said. "It's such a great school with a strong team of coaches and staff in place.

"I think there was a sense of urgency with school starting and football and other fall sports about to get under way. I thought about it overnight and decided to accept the job. It's been a crazy 24 hours."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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