Thomas Rush Propst (born December 1957 in Ohatchee) is a high school football coach, currently leading the Pell City High School Panthers. He was the head coach of the Hoover High School Buccaneers football team from 1999 to 2007, winning five state 6A championships and posting several national rankings. He resigned after the 2007 season following scandals involving grade-changes for student athletes and personal impropriety.
Propst grew up in Ohatchee, playing under Ragan Clark at Ohatchee High School. He graduated in 1976 and walked on as a wide receiver at Jacksonville State University. After college, he worked as an assistant coach for eight years at Cleburne County High School in Heflin, Cherokee High School in Canton, Georgia, and Ashville High School in Ashville, where he became head football coach in 1989.
Propst continued his head coaching career with stints at Eufala High School (1994 - 1996), and Alba High School in Bayou La Batre (1997). Alba merged the following year with Grand Bay High School to become Alma Bryant High School. Propst coached that school to a 12-2 record in 1998 before he was hired at Hoover.
Propst was initially hired as athletic director and football coach, but stepped down from the AD position after six months. Under Coach Propst, the Hoover Buccaneers adopted a pass-heavy spread offense. The team went 7-3 in 1999, then climbed to 14-1 in 2000, beating Daphne High School for the first of five state championships. (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005). Hoover went to the title game again in 2006, losing to Prattville High School. The 2005 and 2006 seasons were the subject of the MTV reality series "Two-A-Days", which made Propst into a national figure.
The 2007 season was marked by continuous rumors of scandal, resignations by school officials, and a detailed investigation of Propst and Hoover's entire athletics program. The investigation found serious academic improprieties and resulted in Propst's resignation. Under his agreement with the Hoover School Board, Propst will step down as head coach after the 2007 playoffs and remain in an administrative position through August 31, 2008.
Propst was named Coach of the Year by the Birmingham News in each of his championship seasons and by the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in 2000 and 2005. His overall head-coaching record was 176-59 (108-15 at Hoover).
Both of Propst's parents died of cancer (his father in 1994 and his mother ten years later). He has a wife, Tammy and three children from that marriage: Jacob, Bryan and Leanne. Propst has acknowledged that he is the father of at least one other child as the result of the extramarital affair that led, in part, to his resignation from Hoover High.
In June 2007 athletic director Jerry Browning resigned, citing differences with principal Richard Bishop (a former JSU team-mate of Propst's). At that time, Browning expressed concern over reports of grade-changes made for certain athletes that he had turned over to Hoover City Schools superintendent Andy Craig. Craig announced that an investigation would be carried out by former federal judge Sam Pointer Jr.
At the same time, rumors about Propst's personal life were swirling. Reporter Hunter Ford discussed allegations of an long-term affair and a "second family" on the air during a broadcast of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network from WJOX-FM. Ford was fired from the Hoover Gazette when publisher John Junkin called the station immediately after the segment.
Ford's July 4, 2007 column for Bessemer's Western Star further detailed the anonymous allegations of three children born out of wedlock. That paper apologized later for printing the allegations, but did not formally retract them. Propst consistently refused to acknowledge any discussion of the subject.
When Bishop's contract was not renewed by the school board, his attorneys sent a letter to the board which repeated the claims about Propst's private life -- adding rumors of an affair with a Hoover teacher and another school official. It went on to say that Craig had instructed Bishop not to investigate those claims. That letter was obtained by the Birmingham News and published in their July 28, 2007 edition. Propst's attorney denied all of those allegations.
The Hoover School Board, under pressure from Hoover mayor Tony Petelos, decided to make Pointer's full report public. The report identified assistant principal Carol Martin as the instigator of the grade-changing incidents, repeating claims that she had an affair with Propst. It also reported that bank records confirmed that Propst had provided financial support to a family in Pell City.
Propst came under further scrutiny when Hanceville High School complained to the Alabama High School Athletic Association that one of their players did not transfer properly to Hoover High and should have been ineligible. On October 23, 2007, the ASHAA ruled that the Bucs would have to forfeit the four games in which he played. Despite the forfeits, the Bucs still qualified for the ASHAA playoffs by defeating Oak Mountain High School on October 26, securing the fourth seed in Class 6A Region 6.
At a special meeting of the Hoover Board of Education on October 30, 2007, Propst announced that he would resign, continuing to coach the team as far as they progress in the 2007 playoffs. After that, he was to be transferred to an administrative assistant position, where he would serve until August 31, 2008. In a 30-minute address to the board and a large crowd inside the board chambers, Propst tearfully admitted to his extramarital affair, but not to any school-related wrongdoings.
On January 30, 2008, Propst was named head coach of Colquitt County High School in Moultrie, Georgia. He was placed on administrative leave by the Colquitt County School System in February 2019 during an investigation of "personnel issues." He accepted a coaching job at USA Academy in Coosada, Elmore County, then left to succeed Alan Rodemaker as head coach of Valdosta High School in Georgia.
In February 2021, Michael "Nub" Nelson, director of the Valdosta Touchdown Club, accused Probst of using program funds for personal use and for enlisting his help to pay players. Nelson was dismissed from his position soon later. In March a recording of a May 2020 conversation between Probst and Nelson circulated online. In the recording, Probst made claims that several college football players at the University of Alabama and University of Georgia had been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by boosters.
Probst and his Valdosta Wildcats football team were featured in the August 2021 Netflix series "Titletown High", created by former "Two-A-Days" producer Jason Sciavicco. After the 2020–2021 season the Georgia High School Association announced sanctions against Valdosta and Propst's contract was not renewed. He moved to Piedmont, Mobile County. In September Propst was admitted to St Vincent's Birmingham with pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
In January 2023 Propst was hired as associate head coach under Mark O'Bryant for the AHSAA Division 1A Coosa Christian Conquerors in Gadsden. Three months later he was hired by Pell City High School as head coach of the Panthers football team.
|Head Football Coach of Hoover High School
|Head Football Coach of Coosa Christian School
|Head Football Coach of Pell City High School
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