Eddie Pless took advantage of the time set aside for citizens to address the board. He discussed his 34 years in education and told the board that “what I’m frustrated with is the way this was handled. A dismissal, a press release concerning an investigation, and a press release of two ADs being terminated – 71 years of service ended like that. All this with my knowledge that there is so much more to the story.”
Details about the dismissal were not addressed during the meeting. Pless said the only way he knew how to address the way the termination was handled was by saying “I know exactly what took place in my situation. I’ve been truthful in answering every question I’ve been asked. Every decision that I made in my six months as an athletic director was done to ensure that the program functioned, that every dime that came in to support athletics — ticket sales, concessions, donations, gifts, and my own personal money — went to support athletics. I did things the only way that I knew how.”
Pless said he thought the finding of the internal investigation was “a fixable situation, an easy, fixable situation. But at some point, a decision was made to not go that route and here we are today. I wish there was time to elaborate on that, but my time is short.”
Speakers addressing the board during the time for public comments are limited to five minutes.
He then addressed Director of Schools Corey Gardenhour. “I feel like if you had come to speak with me early on, things could be done differently. I hate that we never did.”
Pless then talked about the impact the dismissal had in a small community like Elizabethton. He said decisions like this have “huge impacts on towns like ours. There are too many connections. I hope the board will feel like they can come to me and I would to share with them my thoughts about what has gone on.”
Another citizen, Jamie Campbell, followed Pless. Campbell said he has known Pless all of his life and he “would bet a year’s salary” that Pless did not risk his sterling career and reputation on doing something wrong. He asked the board to afford Pless the trust and respect he has earned.
There were no discussion from the board on the comments.