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NEW PORT RICHEY - Former Gulf swim coach Joe Lampkin will not get his job back.
The final decision was sent in a letter from Gulf principal Thomas Imerson to representatives of Gulf's swim team. Imerson fired Lampkin as coach for unspecified reasons. Lampkin continues to teach at the school.
And it appears Lampkin's supporters have run out of options.
"The kids are torn, " Gulf parent representative Sue Smith said. "They want to make a point. They want to swim, they want to do well but at the same time they want Mr. Imerson to realize how important this decision was for them."
Imerson held a pair of meetings last week with Gulf representatives to reconsider the firing. The meeting came after an outpouring of support at a Pasco County School Board meeting two weeks ago and a recommendation by assistant superintendent Jim Davis.
Smith, who attended a meeting with Imerson and has a child on the swim team, said Lampkin's supporters don't agree with the decision because Imerson never provided a specific reason for the firing. She said they also were upset administrators failed to attend meets to get personal accounts of Lampkin's behavior.
"It's put the kids in a hard position, " Smith said. "...We've never gotten a real reason other than (Imerson) had five or six complaints (against him). They could have been from the same parent. ...
"By the second, third or even fourth complaint wouldn't you have gone to one of the events, sent your athletic director or an assistant principal to check out what you're hearing to know if the parents have a legitimate complaint?"
Imerson has promised parents to find a replacement soon, but with several openings in the county for swim coaches that could take time.
Gulf went without an assistant last season because it couldn't find anyone for the job. Meanwhile, kids are on their own in terms of offseason conditioning.