ALBANY — Dougherty High Principal Robert McIntosh confirmed late Tuesday that Donald Poole was removed as athletic director late last week after “legitimate issues” involving the Dougherty athletic department.
McIntosh declined to comment on the specifics of Poole’s removal but did say that Dougherty assistant principal Jerome Register will serve as interim AD for the rest of the school year.
Poole, who was contacted by The Herald on Tuesday but declined to comment, will remain as the head boys basketball coach and physical education teacher at Dougherty High. He had served as athletic director for the past 11 years.
“The reason (behind removing Poole) is confidential, but I can assure you it was for legitimate reasons,” said McIntosh, who has been principal at Dougherty for just six weeks. “As the new principal, I am evaluating all aspects of the school, including athletics. I really want to take our athletic program in a new direction.”
McIntosh said that he is not aware of the GHSA investigating any Dougherty athletic program but believes it was time for new leadership in the department.
“We had a legitimate concern,” McIntosh said. “There were legitimate issues, and we made the move based on that. We want to take the whole athletic department in a new direction. It’s not just one particular sport. … I thought it was in the best interest of the school to head in a different direction.”
McIntosh said each athletic program and its coaches will be evaluated at the end of the school year.
“We will be making decisions on the coaching positions then,” he said.
In the meantime, Register says he plans on putting an emphasis on academics.
“It’s all about the students,” said Register, who was hired at Dougherty less than a year ago and was most recently the assistant principal at Brooks County but has extensive experience in athletics, including a minor league baseball career in the Boston Red Sox organization. “I understand what winning is all about, and I want to provide an opportunity for the kids to have winning programs and coaches who can help them be the best they can be as a student athlete. But it’s student first and then athlete.
“I want to give young people an opportunity to be successful on the athletic field and in the classroom.”
Register added that he didn’t have any hard feelings toward Poole.
“I respect coach Poole, so it’s an honor for me to fill this void,” he said.