Fulton Co. A.D.: ‘We will coach the kids in our buildings’

By David Purdum / For the AJC

Dr. Steven Craft had been the Fulton County Athletics Director barely two months when he received information accusing Milton High School’s state champion boys basketball program of recruiting violations.

Craft didn’t hesitate to act and launched an investigation that would lead to the resignation of Milton coach David Boyd. Boyd led the Eagles to state titles in two of the last three seasons and has won six state titles overall in Georgia.

Boyd’s success didn’t matter to Craft.

Fulton County Athletic Director Dr. Steven Kraft

Fulton County Athletic Director Dr. Steven Kraft

“Honestly, it wasn’t a tough decision, because it was the right thing to do,” Craft said during a recent interview at the Fulton County Schools offices. “I think it’s important to realize that it was never even a question of what school it is. If it’s a legitimate allegation, then we need to look into it. It very well could have been 15 different high schools; it just so happened it was Milton.

“It was what was right for the kids and the coaches of Fulton County,” he added. “We did what was right for high school athletics across the board.”

An ambitious, stocky 35-year-old with a shaved head, Craft was named the first Fulton County A.D. on July 2. Before him, county athletic duties fell under the responsibilities of an area superintendent. He’s the first full-time county A.D. and has made an immediate impression.

Craft spent the last four years as athletic director and eventually assistant principal at Pope High School. He’s also made career stops coaching at Lassiter, South Gwinnett and Tucker. He’s been around and knows what can go on if a coach becomes overzealous in trying to       attract players to their program.

With that in mind, one of the first things Craft did after taking over the job was to hold a meeting for athletic directors from across the county.

“I told them to tell their coaches that we will coach the kids that are in our buildings,” recalled Craft. “We’re not going to use undue influence. We’re not going to recruit. We’re going to coach the kids that we’re supposed to.”

Soon after the meeting, Craft received the allegations of undue influence against Boyd. Craft launched an investigation, and Boyd resigned Aug. 10. Boyd has since refuted the allegations.

The news sent a message throughout the county and drew a mixed reaction.

“There are people who, for lack of a better word, are excited that people are willing to do the right things,” Craft said. “I think you also have the group of people that say it’s happening everywhere why bother doing this.”

Craft knows coaches are often put in a tricky spot when parents contact them about their programs. That’s why he wants to hold regular meetings with athletic directors and coaches to provide the support needed to monitor situations.

“As a former athletic director, principal and coach, I know you will be contacted,” said Craft, who holds a Ph.D in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi. “I tell coaches that they have every right to sell your school, tell them that you have a great academic program or athletic program, but then you need to direct them to the counseling department. Your job is not to follow up.”

34 comments Add your comment

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
10:54 am

I guess since Milton had seven transfers, that was too many. Never mind that Tift Co. and Norcross had four transfers.

Also, I would assume Steven Craft never played high school sports or had a coach make a difference in his life. Just because the school hires a coach, doesn’t mean he/she is the right man for the job. If you have never had a coach who cared for you and invested time in you, than you won’t understand. Needless to say, the basketball coaches in Fulton are less than stellar so why would any student want to play for a coach who doesn’t know how to make in-game adjustments.The coaches in place don’t know how to teach and coach basketball.

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
11:09 am

By the way, I can’t help but notice that the “Findings” have still not come out yet…..I guess there was so much evidence of “recruiting” and “undue influence” that they are overwhelmed with putting together all the facts of the case.

I wonder why the parents have yet to be interviewed? Could it be that they contacted the coach and told him they are moving in and they initiated everything??

Big Al

September 19th, 2012
11:15 am

Steve…if it weren’t true, Boyd would not have resigned. He could have chosen to fight it and even take it to court. But he didn’t. Why? He has no case.

Oh man.........

September 19th, 2012
11:25 am

I am glad at least soneone with character can stand up. I know the gentleman earlier said “If you have never had a coach who cared for you and invested time in you, than you won’t understand.” What about the coaches who do care but doesn’t have the same amount of money backing that coaches through the booster club. There are plenty of coaches that do care but their program can’t compete because another program can offer more than a poor one. So, what you are saying? Only the good coaches are the ones that recruit and make the system unbalanced? It isn’t rocket science that the more you win the more money you will pull in (money and players). How many high school teams are put together by AAU teams? We KNOW THIS HAPPENS and I am glad someone has enough back bone to follow through with doing the RIGHT thing.

Hubert Green

September 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

Undue influence is a very broad brush.

Dilligas

September 19th, 2012
1:15 pm

ALL TOGETHER NOW……”It’s NOT about TRANSFERS; it’s about RECRUITING”…transferring is legal/recruiting is not….what should have been said “I guess since Milton had seven RECRUITS, that was too many….” …I don’t blame Coach Boyd…he was only doing what far too many good people at multiple schools were allowing him to do. Dr. Craft has been around the block. Your either going to play fair or you won’t be in Fulton County Schools.

Tiger4Life

September 19th, 2012
1:51 pm

If you run a quality program you don’t need to recruit. Good choaching and mentoring recuits for itself. Kids want to be part of a winning program as well as their parents. Like Steve said, the caoach at your current school clould be terrible, you shouldn’t be forced to play for him/her. Just make the move legal and I don’t have a issue, play where you want.

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
2:03 pm

Typical response from some of you. Take my comments and spin them how you want to help your argument. Of course there are great coaches at small and less fortunate schools. All I am saying is that, when you have a coach who cares, you want to play for them. Not all coaches care.

Oh and BTW, I can’t help but notice that no one commented on the fact that no “FACTS” have been found to help support the “Firing” of Coach Boyd. Let’s be grown ups here, you know he was either told be fired or resign. My five year old son figured that out. So they have been investigating now for 47 days and yet we still don’t have any evidence to show for it………Hey Craft, ever heard of the term “lawsuit”.

And no one commented/defended the basketball coaching in Fulton…..Enough said.

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
2:08 pm

Oh and by the way, so what if a player goes and plays with one of his AAU teammates at another high school. As long as he is going to still graduate from high school, what do you care? This is America, we have that freedom. Just because you don’t like it because you don’t think its “fair” is not grounds for not do as they please, as long as its a LEGAL move.

Heisenberg

September 19th, 2012
3:11 pm

I am looking at this from a parent and upside down homeowner perspective. Moving is a logistical nightmare. You gotta rent or sell your existing home unless you can afford to rent a cheap crash pad in the new school district just to give appearances of living there. Or do they just send the kid to live with another family? Does that family get compensated? By whom? If you do actually move the whole family, what about siblings lives getting uprooted? Or job commutes? Holy crap!

Dilligas

September 19th, 2012
3:25 pm

Hey Steve….a hit dog always hollers!!! PS Standby for when the GHSA takes action on the Milton Principal’s “self-reporting” of GHSA by-law violations. You’ll get all the “facts” and more then…..

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
5:09 pm

Well Dilligas, today is day 48 of the investigation. I mean, who’s involved? The FBI?

Steve Daniels

September 19th, 2012
5:10 pm

hit dog…….?

JUST SAYING

September 19th, 2012
6:15 pm

Tifton coach is the next to be investigated!!!! He IS recruiting.

White

September 19th, 2012
8:11 pm

But he resigned! Good point it’s illegal to recruit not transfer. He should have never resigned if he wasn’t guilty

BBJunkie

September 19th, 2012
9:29 pm

Steve, are you an expert on all coaches in Fulton? “The coaches in place” so you know that all the coaches in place cannot teach and coach basketball? Maybe you need to provide your resume. If you’re Hubie Brown in disguise, please let us know.

Fulton County Coaches

September 19th, 2012
9:38 pm

For any of you fellas to know what it’s like to compete with the Schools in the ACC (Atlanta Coast Conference), you’d have to have gone to watch your kids play and see other ACC school watching your kids play. What do you say to that kid??? Stay here in your community. Put YOUR school and your community on the map? Don’t let all those free shoes and free trips to Las Vegas get to your head…just continue to work hard and good things will happen…meanwhile, mom and dad are negotiating the transfer papers to the HIGHEST BIDDER! What schools outside of the ACC have won a championship in the last 6 years…5A (Milton, Norcross, Milton, Norcross, Norcross, Norcross, Wheeler), 4A (Miller Grove times 4, Columbia, and Tucker (with Marshon Brooks…and they beat Columbia), 3A (Columbia, Columbia, South Atlanta (with Derrick Favors). The truth of the matter is there are some very good coaches throughout the MEAC (Metro Endangered Association of Coaches) who are struggling to maintain and build successful programs; however, as the above track record shows…In GEORGIA, winning is about the Jim’s and Joes…NEVER THE X’S or the O’s. By the way…Alparetta (Final Four last year), Westlake (playoffs the last 10 years), Chattahoochee (sweet 16 last year) Langston Hughes (playoffs 2 out of last three years and beat an ACC school last year WHEELER), Centennial (playoffs last year and a final four recently…with the loss coming against a Norcross team with 2 NBA players) provide the evidence that quality coaching exist within Fulton County…you guys (especially ill informed parents) just only equate good coaching with CHAMPIONSHIPS…hence the MEAC!

Jim

September 19th, 2012
10:57 pm

I would say to investigate the football team now but after they found out about the recruiting what is there to take away from them? Milton football hasn’t been relevant forever.

Drago

September 19th, 2012
11:06 pm

We must be talking code.

I'm Keep it REAL

September 19th, 2012
11:28 pm

@ Fulton County Coaches…. Good post! If you go back 8 yr , Mays has 2 Ships and State runner-up… Coach Mack at Mays want recruit. If they’re not come on zoning or academic, they want be there. Mays had a players last year leave to go whitefield academy to play basketball & football. Westlake as well as, Mays are losing players to the likes of J. Wheeler yearly.

Steve Daniels

September 20th, 2012
9:06 am

Day 48 of the investigation……Still no evidence or facts, just a bunch of rumors. Come on Fulton County and GHSA! Let me guess, the apartment leases are real and there’s no evidence in writing of recruiting. It’s just Ty Phillips sad that his best player got rezoned. I wonder if a law suit is coming. Maybe, just maybe, someone should interview the parents about how and why they moved and more importantly, who initiated contact. Oh wait, they have already done that. And that’s why there is no evidence.

white

September 20th, 2012
12:57 pm

be careful steve with what u ask for. Please there is too much evidence like the oj case. too much evidence. Everybody know this guy cheated, too many rumors. behind every lie is a “lil truth”.

white

September 20th, 2012
12:58 pm

and we all know what happen the the juice!!!

Steve Daniels

September 20th, 2012
3:43 pm

So much evidence? Than where is it? Than what is taking so long? The investigation is now going on three months. I guess the FBI and the CIA are now involved. All I see is a lot of talk with all of you people, and yet none of you can give me actual facts. You just want to say, “He’s been recruiting.” How would you know? Because that’s what you heard from some guy at the football game last week? Get a clue and get some facts. Don’t just come on here and look like a teenager saying, “Well my girlfriend’s best friend’s former roommate’s sister told me that”……

Finally

September 20th, 2012
8:16 pm

SD, I hate to break this to you but, he resigned! If the facts were not there, why did he resign?

Milton Parent

September 21st, 2012
5:15 pm

REALLY?!? Look, I love winning more than anything, but to watch a team of kids that do NOT represent the demographic of the area, have never stepped foot in the district until their parent “found” a job/apartment in the area OR have never played in the Milton feeder…….Other than Steve, the rest of Milton understood what was going on…..but when you can watch College basketball in the gym for only $7, why not. No racist overtures meant at all, just stating a fact.

Unfortunately, it was time to pay the piper. Truth be told, it needed to be stopped or the incoming 7 would have been replaced by the incoming 12, and so on.

People move all the time and it will not be stopped. However, this is a step in the right direction. So hats off to Fulton county for at least trying to slow the tide. It is certainly better than sitting tight and hoping for the best.

White

September 21st, 2012
11:23 pm

Man Steve u got a crush on boyd

congaman

September 22nd, 2012
11:10 pm

Harrison’s girls should be next. They are paying big money to a dad to be their community coach to land the daughter for next year!!! Not to mention the principal who was watching the boys coach hold illegal practices…because his son is on the team! What is Steve Jones, Cobb’s AD going to do? Nothing.

SD is Boyd

September 29th, 2012
2:35 pm

Wise up. SD is Boyd. He has been trolling sites all the time under names and recruiting that way. In the know is that he is not directly dismissed of recruiting, but illegal transfers. GHSA now requires you to relinquish or attempt to relinquish your old residence.mwhat happened here was they were still living at the old residence and got busted by a social worker when sent out. Others than sang….Fact SD and you know this to. I’ve seen the social worker report. No one has to release this to the public and there will be no lawsuit. Cry somewhere else. Hats off to the new AD for having the integrity to stop this.

Steve Daniels

September 29th, 2012
9:32 pm

Since you have “seen” the report, fill me in on what it said about Jacques Tucker? That’s what I thought, good try little boy. BTW-anyone who knows Boyd knows his screen names.

The Man

October 1st, 2012
1:04 pm

I don’t see anybody here talking about academics. When people put athletics above academics, these situations will happen. What’s a shame is that the public doesn’t care about the kid, only if they can play. When they are no longer any use to them, they quit caring all together. Putting teenagers on a pedistal so early leads to problems for them later. Recruiting needs to stop. If a kid is good enough to play in college, they will be good enough to play wherever their home school is.

Steve Daniels

October 1st, 2012
11:29 pm

What? No one is transferring to the Atlanta Public School System. So what do you mean academics doesn’t matter. Is there really a difference between Fulton County schools and Cobb or Gwinnett? So by transferring, a student is put on a pedestal? There are plenty of kids growing up and playing in their district and being put on a pedestal. The public doesn’t care about kids whether they transfer in or not. Besides, the public can do as they please. They don’t have to care about children that are not their own. Wake up little man, this is how America is in 2012 and it’s not going to get any better. Don’t like it, transfer out of here.

Steve Daniels

October 1st, 2012
11:29 pm

Another victory, they should’t allow little girls to come on here and type messages.

bob barker

October 3rd, 2012
11:26 am

Fact is White mom and dads are mad that negro athletes are moving into North Fulton schools period. Some of these people are even mad that the regular non/athlete blacks are moving into the Miltons, Alpharetta,Cambridge. They wanna play neighborhood ball. Sorry ass players with even weaker dads trying to infuence the sports departments of these schools with money so little Jimmy and Drew can play. These people are the new racist. Hoods taken off and they hide their racism. They really believe blacks shouldnt be at these schools. Thats why these programs are bottom of the barrel every year in sports because “WE want Tommy to play and start”. These people dont realize that some non whites have money too. I hear Cambridge is the definition of this. Arent they 0-4? smh