Carolina Forest originally stated it may take its time finding its next boys basketball coach.
All signs point to it happening much faster than expected.
According to three independent sources with knowledge of the situation, the school intends to hire Emmanuel Dewalt, who in two seasons at Hemingway led the Tigers to a pair of state championship games and the 2018 title. Dewalt possesses a solid coaching resume across multiple in-state schools and an even more impressive academic one. He is expected to be hired as a full-time employee.
Dewalt did not respond to messages seeking comment. His position at Hemingway has been posted through the South Carolina Coaches Association.
Carolina Forest Athletics Director Tripp Satterwhite would not confirm Dewalt’s name or comment further than stating that it is the school’s intent to present a name to Horry County Schools on Monday during the previously scheduled board meeting. Satterwhite said he has been instructed that all information pertaining to the search must come from the district.
However, Horry County Schools’ recent pattern shows muted lines of communication for official releases.
My Horry News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Horry County Schools for the Carolina Forest basketball hire. On Tuesday, the district, through spokesperson Lisa Bourcier, said the request had been forwarded to the human resources department and the names of the finalists and the total number of applicants would be released upon availability.
As of Thursday, nothing had been released.
The spring break term could have been responsible for some of the delay, although that wasn’t the case with two of the other bigger athletics hires in the past year.
Last summer, Tommy Norwood was considered a heavy favorite to take over the football job at St. James. But he still required district approval since his contractual status would change (football coaches are paid on a 220-day contract). He was approved on June 11, and only after he was hired was another name (Mark Palmer) released as a finalist.
Earlier this month, it was a similar issue with the Conway athletics director job that went to Jason Cox on April 8. Multiple emails from Bourcier cited a delay in human resources for not releasing the finalists’ names in advance of the board meeting.
Two days after Cox was approved, the district named Conway baseball coach Anthony Carroll as the only other finalist out of 51 official applicants.
South Carolina’s Code of Laws pertaining to the release of information in public schools states that “not fewer than the final three applicants” should be released. Last week, for instance, the University of South Carolina announced its four finalists who will be considered for its school president opening.
As far as Dewalt, he has a background that appears to have boosted his name to the top of the Panthers’ search, one that began in early March when longtime coach Brian Brunson resigned.
After a standout athletic career at Union High School, Dewalt went on to play football for Tennessee-Chattanooga. In 2002, the Mocs honored Dewalt with the A.C. Moore Award, given annually to the “student-athlete who best personifies the athletic department's vision of establishing comprehensive excellence as the UTC standard.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a focus on biology and natural sciences before later earning a master’s degree in divergent learning from Columbia College.
Prior to taking the job at Hemingway, he taught and coached at York and Mid-Carolina for a combined 14 years. At Mid-Carolina, he led the boys basketball team to its most single-season wins in school history.
Brunson, who took over the position at Carolina Forest on an interim basis midway through the 2008 season, assumed full control later that year and then remained until he announced his retirement on March 1.