St. James will be looking for its fourth head boys basketball coach in program history after Chris Tibbits was dismissed from his coaching duties.
While Tibbits is still teaching social studies at the school, he said he is no longer coaching after the district and school essentially put him on a one-year athletics ban. He would not get into specifics about what led to the removal of his coaching duties, although he was adamant the change was ultimately the result of language and not physical abuse.
“I did not put my hands on a kid,” Tibbits said Thursday. “There was an allegation that was made. It was proven to be false. It was investigated and cleared by police. They didn’t like my language, basically.
“As of right now, it’s just for a year. At some point, if I decided to coach again, I have the opportunity to. I care about those kids a lot.”
An incident report from the Horry County Police Department supports Tibbits’ account.
The report stated that the initial accusation was that a student had been spat upon and poked in the chest. But on Feb. 20, an on-site investigation that included a review of video evidence and interviews with others in the vicinity didn't substantiate those claims. No charges were filed.
“The confrontation between the coach and student was only verbal, and had not ever reached the level of physical," the report stated. "Due to it only being a verbal confrontation, the school will conduct its own internal investigation into the matter.”
Additionally, Tibbits has not been placed on administrative leave, a common occurrence at Horry County Schools in situations involving physical confrontations.
St. James Athletics Director Collin Liggett said Thursday that the situation’s fluidity prevented him from saying much.
“We’re not going to discuss it right now,” Liggett said. “The rumor mill is what it is. But we’re not going to comment on it just yet. I hope by Monday, there will be more.”
Asked if that meant the athletics position would be posted next week, Liggett again refused to release any details.
Tibbits said he has every intention of not only finishing out this year in his academic role but returning to St. James for the 2023-2024 school year as well.
In addition to not coaching basketball, Tibbits will also no longer serve as an assistant coach on the Sharks varsity football team, which is conducting its offseason practice with rising ninth graders this month and then set for full spring workouts in May.
The now-former coach reiterated that he wished to return to the sidelines again down the line.
On the basketball court, St. James was 38-54 in Tibbits’ four seasons. The Sharks finished fourth in their respective region all four years. The team did earn its fourth playoff victory in school history in February when the Sharks upset West Ashley on the road.
St. James lost in the second round to River Bluff and finished out the year at 13-13 overall.
Toward the end of the regular season, Tibbits said that his basketball team had made tremendous strides in a short period of time and he believed the late-season success could be a springboard into next year.
Tibbits relocated to the Grand Strand in 2017 and was a social studies teacher at St. James Middle School before moving to the high school in the same capacity beginning with the 2018-2019 school year. He was selected for the head basketball coaching job in June of 2019 from a pool of 17 official applicants, according to the district’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request at the time.
Prior to moving to the Myrtle Beach area, he was the head girls coach at Cowanesque Valley (Pa.) High School from 2008-2013 and then 2014-2016. He was also the head boys coach at Elkland (Pa.) from 2002-2007. His Pennsylvania teams won a combined four conference championships there and three district titles.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.