Just a couple weeks ago, the Carolina Day School girls basketball team was preparing to begin the chase for an unprecedented ninth straight state championship.
Now, after firing a popular coach, a lawsuit and reports of a mass exodus of players, there is no girls basketball team at CDS.
A school spokesman said Wednesday the Wildcats will not field a team this season in order to rebuild the program.
In a text message in response to a question about the program not playing this season, school spokesperson Jane Childress wrote, “CDS will hold off on competitive play this season in order to rebuild the girls varsity basketball program with a fresh start, from the ground up.”
Carolina Day fired girls coach Joe Carrington on Oct. 22, just days before the start of the season.
In a statement sent to parents of players, CDS said Carrington was let go in order to “more closely align the girls’ basketball program with our school’s core beliefs.”
Carrington posted a 217-29 record (.882) in nine years at the school and won NC Independent School Athletic Association championships each of the past eight seasons with the Wildcats, the only coach in the history of WNC girls basketball to win that many consecutive state titles.
Carrington said it was “philosophical differences” that led to his contract not being renewed one week before practice began.
“I hold no ill will toward Carolina Day and will never say anything bad about the school, but I didn’t want to leave,” Carrington said the day after he was fired.
“I’m not angry, but I am disappointed in their decision. I was really looking forward to this season, but they made the decision not to renew my contract and they have every right to do that.
“My philosophy is about winning and being competitive, working hard and doing what it takes to win, and that didn’t match up with a changing school culture,” he said.
“They are going from a competitive program to a more participatory program, that’s how I would term it. At least that’s the way I perceived it.”
Last week, Carrington filed a lawsuit in Buncombe County, claiming CDS had breached its contract with the firing and had since defamed him.
There are reports that a majority of players on the CDS girls team have left the program and/or transferred to other schools or declined to play on the squad following Carrington’s dismissal.
Former Wildcat Annabelle Schultz, who has committed to play at Wofford, has transferred to Erwin High. Another CDS player, Nautica Smiley, has also transferred to Erwin.
Erwin girls basketball coach Matt Carpenter declined to comment Wednesday night, directing media inquiries to the communications department at the central office of Buncombe County Schools.
Other players who have reportedly transferred out of the program include Amber Redmond (to Asheville High) and Lani Woods (to North Buncombe).
And reportedly at least two players remained at CDS after Carrington’s firing but chose not to play for the team.
CDS athletic director Steve Henry, who was supposed to take over the girls program from Carrington, did not respond to messages seeking comment.
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