Burnett leaving Southern Lee

SANFORD — There’s another head coaching opening at Southern Lee.

And this time, it is one of the school’s most successful and veteran coaches.

Cavaliers baseball coach Matt Burnett revealed on Friday night that he has submitted his resignation to Lee County Schools and will be moving on from Southern Lee this summer.

Burnett said that a series of changes at the school and for his family precipitated the move.

“With all the changes going on in terms of myself, my family and everything else, we felt like it would be best for me to step back and look and see if there are other options out there.”

Burnett did not specifically address what many of those changes were, but did say Southern Lee’s administration had something to do with his leaving.

“There’s been a lot of change in terms of the administration, and in terms of our program with a class that’s about to graduate after four great years,” Burnett said. “It was the right time.”

Attempts to reach Lee County Schools and Southern Lee Principal Bonnie Almond were unsuccessful Friday night.

Burnett said he is actively looking for a position that will enable him to keep teaching and coaching varsity high school baseball.

“I love teaching, and I love teaching the game of baseball,” he said. “I’m looking for another opportunity to continue with that.”

Internet rumors had been circulating for about a month that Burnett was going to be let go by the school system. Burnett had little to say about those rumors.

“Anytime somebody steps away from a job there’s always going to be rumors,” Burnett said. “I don’t think I want to address them one by one and I don’t feel like I need to address them. If I address one of them, I’d have to address them all.”

When contacted in May seeking comment about the rumors of Burnett’s contract not being renewed, Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss released a statement.

“The Board of Education is the final authority on all personnel decisions with regards to hiring, terminations, and contract nonrenewal. Those decisions will not be made until the June board meeting.”

The Board meets on Tuesday.

Burnett was Southern Lee’s second baseball coach, taking over after the program’s first coach Carl Boykin resigned for health reasons. After a successful run as the pitching coach at perennial powerhouse Western Guilford, Burnett built the Cavaliers into one of the top-echelon teams in the Cape Fear Valley Conference.

He guided the Cavaliers to a 62-39 record in his four seasons at the helm, good for a .614 winning percentage. Southern Lee has won at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons under Burnett and went to the state playoffs in her of his four seasons. The Cavaliers won the conference championship in Burnett’s second year in 2008, leading to his receiving the league’s Coach of the Year award. Southern Lee never finished lower than fourth in the conference standings with Burnett.

Burnett said he will have fond memories of his time at Southern Lee.

“I’ll always be thankful to Southern Lee, to (former principal) Hans Lassiter and to (former principal) Rob Dietrich for all of their support,” Burnett said. “I’m thankful to all the parents and to the players for taking the program where we did.

“I just felt like it was time to step away.”

Burnett said he will miss his players the most.

“I love those kids,” he said. “There’s a lot for them to be proud of; they are all an integral part of a Southern Lee baseball tradition that hopefully will continue forever and ever. Those guys did everything right and did everything that was ever asked of them for four years.

“They’ve got a friend for all of their lives in me. I’ll always be just a phone call away if there’s ever anything they need.”

Burnett is the second high-profile coach to resign from Southern Lee in the last two months. On May 18, football coach Eric Puryear stepped down after months of rumors swirling about his job status. Puryear lasted just a year at Southern Lee, a winless season that came on the heels of another former football coach, Bill Maczko, was forced out of the program after a single season in 2008.

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2 Comments

Filed under Alex Podlogar, Cape Fear Valley Conference, Designated Hitter, Prep sports, Southern Lee High School, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald

2 responses to “Burnett leaving Southern Lee

  1. Terry T

    Here we go again. Another championship winning coach, headed out the door.

    A good friend of mine told me something yesterday that I wasn’t so sure about until tonight, with this story and the rumored hiring of Tom Paris, the defensive coordinator at Hoke County as the next football coach.

    He said, “The dismantling of Southern Lee, is complete.”

    I’m beginning to believe that. For some reason, I thought that the people elected to the board of education, were there for ALL students who live in Lee County. That’s obviously not the case for a few of them. For some strange reason, they do not like seeing Southern Lee succeed in athletics.

    Win a state championship in wrestling. Get rid of the coach.

    Win a conference championship in baseball. Get rid of the coach.

    They’ve already dismantled the football program and are making sure it stays down apparently, with the rumored announcement next week.

    Even former Lee County head football coach Jody Stouffer got caught up in all of this.

    Lose to Southern Lee two years in a row. Get rid of the coach. Despite the fact that he helped 20+ young men, go on to further their education through football scholarships.

    What does that say about what is most important to the powers that be?

    What a laughing stock this board must be to others around the state. How many more years do we have to endure, with “good ol’ boy” hires and back room deals that don’t work out, before the voters of Lee County stop being lemmings and put some non-biased people who genuinely care about all of our kids, on the board?

    Until we do, go ahead and plan on being here this time next year so we can talk about who the new coach will be then.

  2. GOODRIDDANCE

    Terry,
    You couldn’t me more accurate. The board can say what they want and hide behind the “personel” clause if they want to, but this was somewhat “announced” weeks ago.
    Now as for the reasons, it’s anyone’s guess, but Burnette resigned, so he would be able to get another teaching job in NC. Same with other coaches. The BoE is using these strong arm tactics to force out these coaches/teachers. “You can resign, or you’ll be fired, which is a no-renewable check when you apply at another job”

    Gotta love the BoE. They keep who they want, but let everyone that doesn’t follow their ways, go.

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