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As investigation continues, football coach no longer employee at Village Christian

March 7, 2019 GMT

Emerson Martin is no longer the football coach or weightlifting teacher at Village Christian Academy, HighSchoolOT.com learned on Thursday.

Village Christian Superintendent Tom Rider sent an email to Village Christian families on Thursday afternoon stating that Martin was no longer working for the school.

“Emerson Martin is no longer serving as the VCA football coach and weightlifting teacher. We will immediately seek to find a permanent replacement for both positions. Until that time a substitute teacher will be teaching his classes,” the message said.

Village Christian is under investigation by the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association after allegations were made about recruiting and promises of free tuition in the football program. Reached Friday for comment before a HighSchoolOT.com report, Martin said there were two sides to every story, but he declined to comment further.

Attempts to reach Martin on Thursday were not successful.

Two students who transferred to Village Christian from Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, Isaiah Henderson and Geo Cannon, spoke to HighSchoolOT.com on camera last week about their claims. Henderson said he was recruited and promised his tuition would be paid for him, but once football season ended, he was removed from the school because of unpaid tuition. Cannon said he was not recruited, but he too was removed from the school after football season when he did not pay tuition.

NCISAA rules state that schools cannot recruit kids for athletic purposes. Student-athletes are also prohibited from receiving financial aid or scholarships because of their athletic performance.

The NCISAA has declined to comment on the investigation.

Lee Boughman, chairman of the school committee conducting an internal investigation, said the school would have no further comment on Martin’s departure because it is a personnel matter. He added that the NCISAA investigation is ongoing and that the school takes it “very seriously.”

Henderson’s parents, Ila Stancil and Dirul Henderson, provided HighSchoolOT.com with a video recording of a meeting they had with Martin and his wife, Keschia. In the recording, Martin describes how financial assistance was supposed to be provided to the students.

HighSchoolOT.com spoke to assistant coach Keith McCrimmon this week. Martin told Isaiah Henderson’s parents in a Nov. 4 meeting that McCrimmon was supposed to be dividing up money from coaches stipends to help kids with tuition payments. McCrimmon told HighSchoolOT.com that is not true.

“At no time did I agree or have a conversation about how I was going to spend my coaching stipend,” he said.

According to McCrimmon, he did pay $510 towards Isaiah Henderson’s tuition on Nov. 5, but he did so thinking he was providing one-time assistance. He said he never made any additional payments towards Isaiah Henderson’s tuition.

McCrimmon told HighSchoolOT.com that Martin said he had paid $9,000 towards three players’ tuition over three months. This conversation happened by phone in February.

“I can’t quote it exactly, but it went basically like this: he said, ‘Keith, I’ve paid $9,000 for these three kids to stay in school and this month is going to be $12,000 and it shouldn’t be on me and I need your help,’” McCrimmon recalled. “I had no idea that he’d been paying, or it was the first I heard of him paying anyone’s tuition.”

HighSchoolOT.com will have more from McCrimmon on Friday.

Martin was hired as the football coach at Village Christian in 2017. In his first season, Martin led the team to the NCISAA state championship game and finished as the runner-up. This past season, the Knights won the NCISAA Division-III state championship game, losing just one game all season.

In his message to families at the school, Rider said, “VCA is grateful for the service Emerson and his family rendered to the school and we pray God’s very best for them. As with all personnel decisions we do not discuss the details concerning the decision. However, my door is open should you wish to meet with me personally.”