David Boyd has coached six boys’ basketball teams to state championships at four different schools. And as the new head coach at East Jackson Comprehensive High School, he’ll aim to add to those stats.
Boyd was announced as the Eagle head coach for the 2014-15 season at an information session last Thursday. That news came on the heels of an announcement that former Eagle head coach Brian Turner resigned after having his position of graduation coach eliminated by the school system. Turner will coach girls’ basketball at Berkmar next year, while Boyd takes the reigns at East Jackson.
“I’ve never seen anybody fundamentally coach a basketball team better than what I saw coach Boyd do at Milton High School,” said East Jackson principal Jamie Dixon, as he introduced Boyd to his players and staff. “I’ve never seen folks – who were average as athletes – become such great athletes. I’ve never seen folks pushed so hard and to have so much reward at the end.”
Dixon served as athletic director at Milton High School when Boyd coached the (Milton) Eagles to state championships in 2010 and 2012.
“We are stepping forward in a big way,” said Dixon. “What we’ve pulled here is what some of us would call a coup d’état. We brought one of the – in my opinion – the best basketball coaches in Georgia to East Jackson.”
Boyd’s six championship rings – Campbell (1982), Tucker (1996), Berkmar (2000, 2001) and Milton (2010, 2012) is a state record and ranks him among the elite in all-time Georgia High School basketball coaches.
Milton has taken teams to state championship games 10 different times and holds a 10-0 record in state semifinal games. Six of his teams were nationally ranked and several had full Nike sponsorships. He has been honored as the GHSA state coach of the year five times and was named national coach of the year by “Athletic Directors Magazine” in 2001.
Boyd has coached over a dozen athletes who went on to play in the NCAA and has coached several all-star teams, including the Nike Global Challenge championship team (USA Midwest).
But Boyd’s long list of accolades is not without complications.
Boyd resigned from Berkmar in 2002 for “personal reasons” while under investigation by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission for an ethics complaint. He resigned from Milton after the 2012 season after allegations of using “undue influence” to guide players to transfer to Milton during the summer. The GHSA banned Milton from the 2013-14 state playoffs and fined the school an undisclosed amount of money.
“The bottom line was anybody that came to Milton made a legitimate move,” said Boyd. “They were all academically eligible; they were all living where they’re supposed to live. I was accused of having ‘undue influence.’ That’s a pretty broad brush, so what most people feel is that people want to be part of a great program. I didn’t wave a magic wand for anyone to play at Milton. The program sold itself.”
Boyd noted that he and the athletic department at East Jackson will use caution and communication and have a firm grasp on all GHSA rules so that a similar situation doesn’t arise.
Boyd resigned mid-season at private school Excel Christian last year and retired to his beachside property on St. Simon’s Island, where Boyd said he was “perfectly happy” where he was, until he got a call from Dixon last winter.
Dixon knew that Turner was likely out the door, so he convinced Boyd to take a drive up North 441 to see East Jackson’s facilities.
After being impressed upon his initial visit, Boyd returned for the East Jackson vs. Jackson County rivalry game to get a feel for the atmosphere surrounding the Eagles.
“When I pulled up and saw that school, I was impressed,” said Boyd. “This is a school that has a lot of special qualities to it. I saw how the fans got into the game. I saw how hard the players played. My interest was peaked.”
Boyd plants to rent in the Athens area, while teaching at East Jackson on a 49-percent contract.
He plans to plunge the Eagles into a summer workout regiment as soon as the semester ends, but he wasted no time on Thursday when explaining to his players how he intends on conducting business.
“Athletics and academics go hand-in-hand,” he echoed. “Excuses do not get the job done. I expect my basketball players to be better than the average students. We want good men, supportive teammates and supportive parents. We are going to put our work boots on and go to work.”
“Why am I coming back to coaching?” Boyd asked as he presented his championship ring. “Because I love coaching basketball. I love being at a high school. I love working with young people. I also enjoy a challenge.”
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