This story was updated Sept. 27, 2018, at 5:14 p.m. with more information.
Soddy-Daisy High School Principal Steven Henry has apologized for comments made by the school's athletic director Jared Hensley in a video broadcast to the student body earlier this week.
Speaking about a dress code policy on athletic shorts (which students are not allowed to wear at the school), Hensley said, "If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That's really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it'll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules."
The video went viral and has sparked outrage and backlash from many community members, though others have spoken out in defense of Hensley.
"As the principal of Soddy-Daisy High School, I believe students are the focus of our work, and we value all students as we seek to create opportunities for success for our graduates," Henry said in a statement Thursday. "The recent comments about young women by Assistant Principal Jared Hensley are not representative of who we are as a school, and I do not condone his comments. I sincerely apologize that the video was played at school and that the inappropriate comments may have upset any member of our community. It is my desire that teachers, students, parents, and the community work together focused on supporting all students at Soddy-Daisy High."
Hensley was placed on administrative leave after Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson called his comments "inexcusable."
"We find the comments about young women in this video inexcusable, as the sentiments expressed do not align with the values of Hamilton County Schools," Johnson said in a statement Wednesday.
Some Soddy-Daisy community members, students and parents have come out in support of the athletic director.
"Coach Hensley has been a huge part of Soddy-Daisy High School. As an alumni, I know he is nothing but a great and humorous person. I'm sorry for anyone who can't handle the truth," said Katelynn Coyner, an alumna of the school. "I'm praying for coach Hensley because I know he's devastated. He loves Soddy-Daisy, the students, and faculty. People make mistakes."
Several women visited the school system's central office Thursday to share how they felt about Hensley's commitment and devotion to Soddy-Daisy students.
Dawn Thornton, a former employee of the high school, showed up and shared her thoughts with a district employee. Her son played baseball for Hensley for four years, and she echoed Coyner's sentiments.
"You can't ask for a better guy. He'll give you the shirt off his back," Thornton said. "You can't ask for a better man. What he said was true and needed to be said. Unfortunately he didn't say it in the right manner."
Many students also are chiming in in defense of Hensley. Some are even using the hashtag "#TeamHensley" to show their support on social media.
"I believe that what Hensley said was not well thought out and was taken a bit too far. With that being said, as a female at Soddy-Daisy High School, I have never felt victimized of shamed for who/what I am, by Hensley, or any other staff member," said Tori Brown, senior class president, in a statement. "I 100% can not speak for every female at the high school but as for your senior class president, and vice president, we are 100% behind Hensley."
Hayden McMillion said the comments were jokes intended only for students and such jokes aren't uncommon at the school.
"The joke he made on our school's news was in poor taste, but please keep in mind that these news segments are filmed and edited by the student body, and shown almost exclusively to the school body," McMillion said in an email. "At Soddy-Daisy High, most of the students and teachers are very comfortable with each other and get along very well. And, because it is a very conservative place, jokes such as this are not unheard of. And they are no more than that — JOKES. Nobody here seriously believes women ruin everything."
The school district, which has not confirmed whether Hensley's administrative leave is paid or unpaid, is investigating the incident.
"[The investigation] started yesterday and will continue as people involved directly or indirectly are interviewed," district spokesman Tim Hensley, who is not related to Jared Hensley, said. "The results of some interviews in the typical investigation often [produce] more people who may need to be interviewed, so placing a closing timeline on any investigation is difficult."
Contact staff writer Meghan Mangrum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.