Longtime Burke High coach takes over at Baptist Hill
BY PHILIP M. BOWMAN
You could sense that Earl Brown wasn’t ready to call it a career after Burke lost in the Class A boys basketball Lower State championship last winter.
“I don’t know if this is a sad day,” he said after the game. “But it was a bad day.”
He said he would miss his players. But he didn’t say farewell. And he never said this was the end.
Brown, who turned 65 in April and has been a coach for 43 years, couldn’t resist when Baptist Hill High School offered him the job as boys basketball coach. He accepted and is ready to go.
“I’m excited,” said Brown, who last year became only the third high school basketball coach in state history to reach 700 career victories. “I have a connection to Baptist Hill High School. They are family, too.”
Earl Brown was hired by Baptist Hill athletic director Marion Brown. The men aren’t related, but they have been connected for many years.
“I taught Marion Brown when he was in the fifth grade at Mount Pleasant Academy,” said Brown, who will begin the 2012-13 season with 717 career victories.
“And, I was the one who hired him and gave him his first job as a head coach. I hired him as the head football coach at Burke in the early 2000s.”
Brown almost didn’t get a chance to win his 700th game at Burke. In the summer of 2011, he was told he was being replaced as coach even though his teams were 100-15 and played in three state championships in four years. The community was outraged and a number of Charlestonians, including state Sen. Robert Ford and state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, helped convince the school district to reconsider.
Brown insists he wasn’t forced out at Burke after last season.
“I could have coached another two or three years,” Brown said. “But it wouldn’t have been fair to Deon Richardson. He was the coach-in-waiting. It wouldn’t have been fair to him if I cut into his time.”
There were rumors schools were interested in Brown just months after his final game at Burke. There was talk last spring that Brown might be headed to Baptist Hill. Brown said he considered a job in Berkeley County.
“But I just couldn’t picture myself getting up at 5:30 every morning,” he said.
Baptist Hill principal Kala Goodwine was pleased with the hire.
“I think it is a great idea,” she said. “We are excited to have him. We are lucky to have someone with his expereince and credentials.”