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Westover Principal William Chunn suspends basketball coach Dallis Smith for three games

The discipline stems from a team bullying incident at a basketball camp two weeks ago

ALBANY — Westover Principal William Chunn said Monday he has suspended boys head basketball coach Dallis Smith for three games as a result of a team bullying incident that occurred two weeks ago at a hotel during a trip to a basketball camp in Tallahassee.

Chunn on Friday handed down discipline to seven basketball players. The punishments ranged from one player who was removed from the team and transferred to the South Georgia Achievement Center for a semester to five-game suspensions, in-school suspensions and community service for the other six players involved.

Superintendent Butch Mosely said the coach and players would serve their suspensions at the start of the 2014-15 basketball season.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Dallis Smith as a coach and as a person,” Chunn said in a statement to The Albany Herald. “He has done a tremendous job with our basketball program and with our young men. Coach Smith’s loyalty to our program goes back to the Willie Boston Era, where he was a player and later became an assistant coach. In this latest incident, Coach Smith did have the proper amount of chaperones as required by the DCSS, but at times the chaperones were not with the students during the trip.

“It is my expectation that the students be properly chaperoned at all times in every school activity or event. Coach Smith will be reprimanded and suspended three basketball games without pay for lack of supervision on the bus during the Tallahassee trip.”

Chunn added that the incident had nothing to do with Smith’s performance as a coach.

“This will no way take away from the job Coach Smith has done with our basketball program,” Chunn said. “We have learned from this incident and will put more guidelines in place with our school’s athletic director to ensure proper supervision of the students. We now look to move forward and continue our great basketball heritage at Westover.”

The abuse allegations were made public by the 16-year-old player’s father, Manswell Peterson, and sparked an internal investigation led by Dougherty County School System Police Department Chief Investigator J.C. Phillips. His final report, given to DCSS Administrative Assistant Jack Willis last week, stated, “The investigation revealed that the student was indeed physically and verbally abused and bullied.”

Peterson’s son has since transferred to another school.

Mosely lauded Chunn for his quick response to the situation.

“I thought the punishment was fair,” Mosely said. “I think we’ve sent a message that bullying will not be tolerated by the Dougherty County School System. These children are entrusted to our care and we need to do our jobs and protect them.”

Smith refused to comment Monday.