After just one year, Grundy County football coach Jim Swafford has resigned his coaching and teaching positions effective immediately. Swafford cited a "personal issue" as the reason for his resignation.
According to the North Carolina board of education's department of public instruction Web site, Swafford had his teaching license revoked in December 2007 because of a sexual relationship with a student.
Grundy County school superintendent Jody Hargis said a background check was conducted when Swafford was hired, but the details of the coach's dismissal at Perquimans County (N.C.) High School only recently were revealed.
"We checked, and at the time there was nothing in his background that concerned us," Hargis said. "He had coached in Tennessee before, and we just became aware that there was a red-flag issue.
"All I really know right now is that we have been made aware of an issue and Coach Swafford said he would resign to devote more time to his family. I understand that that is the most important thing right now."
A 1987 Bledsoe County graduate, Swafford has previously been a head coach at Watertown, Stewart County and South Doyle in Tennessee, then took over the program at Perquimans County in Hertford, N.C. He also has been an assistant at Whitwell, Sequatchie County, Spring Hill and Warren County and served as a counselor and assistant coach at Taft Youth Center.
"At this point in my life, with two young children, I need to step back and spend more time with my family," Swafford said. "It was a tough decision, having to leave the kids in this program, and I hope I'm leaving it in better shape than when I got here. Right now I plan to get out of coaching and teaching for a while."
Perquimans County school superintendent Dr. Dwayne Stallings said there is no case pending against Swafford in that school system.
"At the time of his resignation he was still licensed to teach in this state, and he gave health issues as the reason for leaving," Dr. Stallings said. Swafford resigned his position at Perquimans County High early in December 2007, and his license was revoked later that month, Stallings said.
The Grundy County Board of Education hired Swafford as football coach in January 2008 after coach Chris Pickett died from complications of cancer in October 2007. Swafford was a finalist for the Yellow Jackets job in the spring of 2007, but Pickett was hired instead. Pickett died the week of the eighth game of the 2007 season. Swafford was chosen from among 11 applicants last year.
"We've been through a difficult time in football," Hargis said, noting that the new Yellow Jackets coach will be the fourth in the last four years. "We've really struggled to get this thing going, and our next hire has to give us stability. We can't afford to have someone use the program as a steppingstone."
The Yellow Jackets, who went 1-9 last season, concluded spring workouts last week, and an an athletic committee will now oversee the coaching search. Hargis said he hopes to have a new coach in place within six weeks.