Dr. Robin Hines, a former South Georgia football coach and high school principal who retired as superintendent of Houston County Schools in 2014, was approved Tuesday as the executive director of the Georgia High School Association effective June 1. Hines will succeed Gary Phillips, who will retire.
In other business in Thomaston, the GHSA’s executive committee tabled a vote on a proposed bylaw that would force transfer students sit out 50 percent of competitions at their new high schools unless they are granted waivers by their former schools.
The choice of Hines –approved 64-0 - was off-the-radar and surprising. He’s an outsider, which might serve to heal any fractures that might linger amid the controversy of Phillips’ ouster.
Other top candidates were Glenn White, president of the GHSA board of trustees that recommended Phillips' removal in February, and Jay Russell, Phillips’ assistant executive director and presumed successor until Phillips' early departure.
Thomasville principal Todd Mobley and Cherokee County Schools administrator Don Corr, who also interviewed for the position with the board of trustees this week, are members of the GHSA's executive committee.
Hines will be the first GHSA executive director in 70 years who did not come from the GHSA’s staff. He met with the current staff Tuesday afternoon after the executive committee meeting and assured them that he valued their work. No major shakeup is expected.
‘’There’s lot of people, I’m talking staff-wise as well as trustee-wise and on the executive committee, that have been involved in this organization for many, many years, and I’m coming in from the outside,’’ Hines told ajc.com on Tuesday afternoon. “I have no problem making decisions. I’ve been in a position where I’ve had to make decisions as a superintendent. But I believe in shared decisions. I want to get as many people rowing in the same direction in that boat as I can.’’
Hines said he looked forward to working with Phillips, who will stay on through the end of June.
Phillips, on the job since 2014, came under pressure this year from the state legislature, which initiated two bills designed to take over the GHSA. Partly to appease legislators, the GHSA board of trustees voted 5-3 to recommend Phillips' resignation in February. The 66-member executive committee voted to reject the recommendation, but Phillips elected to retire anyway, saying it was best for the association.
Hines is stepping into an unusual political climate for the GHSA.
‘’We want to make sure that we’re upfront and transparent with all of our stake-holders, and in my mind that includes legislators, of course,’’ Hines said. “We want to know how we can better serve our clientele. That’s superintendents, school boards, member schools. We want to make sure they know who we are and how hard our staff is working. We want to market ourselves and put ourselves in the best light. The GHSA does great work, and we want to continue that excellence, and we certainly want to improve.’’
Hines was superintendent of Houston County schools from 2010 to 2014. He was principal at Charlton County (1998-2001), Jackson County (2001-06) and Northside-Warner Robins (2006-08) before becoming Houston County's assistant superintendent for school operations in 2008.
While at Charlton County, Hines worked with current Charlton County athletics director Jesse Crews, a GHSA board-of-trustees member who served this week during interviews.
Hines had been a teacher and football coach at Colquitt County (1984-88) and Westover (1988-95). He was head coach and athletics director for most of his time at Westover. Hines played football at Thomasville under Jim Hughes, whose staff he later would join at Colquitt.
Hines is a 1982 graduate of Valdosta State University. He earned a master’s degree there in education, health and P.E. in 1984. He completed his doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 1999.
Hines retired from Houston County three years ago, saying he wanted to spend more time with family and pursue other interests, which included music, as he's an accomplished musician. Appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Hines in retirement has served as commissioner for the Georgia Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission.
Hines said that he was approached about applying by former colleagues in coaching and administration. He called it a natural fit.
‘’The GHSA has been a big part of my professional life,’’ Hines said. “The reason I got into education was because I wanted to teach and coach, and the GHSA has been right there. As a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent, athletics and fine arts are a crucial piece of the total educational process. The GHSA’s mission is to expend the classroom experience to the athletic fields and one-act plays, and that’s a noble one, one that I think is ultra-important.’’