Horry County Schools announced the three official finalists for the St. James football coaching search on Tuesday.
Less than 48 hours later, all three men had withdrawn or turned down the job.
Cabell Midland (W.Va.) coach Luke Salmons on Thursday morning joined fellow finalist Bradley Adams of Georgetown in saying he had pulled his name from consideration. About an hour later, Ayden-Grifton (N.C.) coach Paul Cornwell told The Sun News he was offered the position but turned it down.
“We just decided we were going to stay where we are,” Cornwell said. “There are some great people at St. James. I think it was an awesome place. I think it would be a great opportunity for somebody. It just wasn’t the right time for me and my family.”
Time is now an issue for the school, as well.
Once the process reached the advanced stages, Horry County Schools took over the release of all pertinent information on the search. However, before that, St. James Athletics Director Paula Lee said the school hoped to have a coach in place prior to the start of spring football practice, which begins May 5.
That looks like less of a possibility. Horry County Schools spokesperson Teal Harding confirmed via email Thursday that all three candidates had withdrawn. She also said the job would be re-posted as soon as the district’s human resources department was notified to do so by St. James Principal Vann Pennell.
It was not immediately clear if the search would start over from scratch, the school would go back to some of the other 55-60 approximated candidates it originally had, or some combination of the two.
What is known is that St. James’ first top three have all declined the opportunity.
“I spoke with them and I hadn’t heard anything in a while,” Salmons said Thursday morning. “I wasn’t even at that point [of an offer]. I looked into it, and it was one of those things. I’m not interested.”
Salmons went on to say that he would not accept the job even if it was officially offered. Adams said virtually the same thing Wednesday.
It leaves Horry County’s fourth-largest high school – one that is likely headed to the Class AAAA level in 2016 – without a football coach for at least a few more weeks. The position came open Feb. 11 when Mark Fischer announced he was leaving the school. He was re-introduced at Louisa County (Va.) the next day, and he has already begun the transition of returning the program he helped develop into a Virginia small-class powerhouse.
As is customary, Fischer is under contract with Horry County Schools until the end of the academic year. Lee said Fischer would be assisting the existing staff with the offseason conditioning program.
The 2013 football season was just the 10th year of varsity ball for the Sharks. The team was 24-78 in that first decade, failing to achieve a winning record in any season.