MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) Former Meridian Football Coach, Martez Edwards, was hired on January 28 to replace previous coach, Calvin Hampton. Edwards coached the last two seasons at Forest Park (GA) High School, where he compiled a 5-17 record. Before Forest Park, Edwards guided the Bessemer City Tigers to a 30-18 record over a four-year period.
Edwards was placed on administrative leave on May 6 after what was deemed an inappropriate photo surfaced on social media. On June 13, the Meridian Public School District Board of Trustees held a special called meeting to reach a determination with whether there was cause to terminate Edwards. The meeting followed a May 28 termination hearing where Edwards and his attorney presented material in support of his continued employment. The School Board voted to uphold Superintendent Dr. Amy Carter’s decision to terminate the coach.
Edwards says he and his attorney plan on appealing the decision through the chancery court and still wants to head the Meridian football program, despite the Board’s decision.
“I’m here for the kids,” Edwards said in an exclusive interview with WTOK. “The kids have not showed no confidence. Those players haven’t. Those players are hurting. Those players are calling me and texting me and one just called me before we started this interview. I’m not here to coach for the school board. I’m not here for the principal. I’m not here for the superintendent. I’m here for those football players.”
Edwards claims the picture circulating on social media was illegally obtained because people in the community were unhappy that, as an outsider, he was hired. In addition, a 2014 domestic violence arrest in Bessemer, Alabama was a red flag for locals and something that might have played into his termination.
“It was dropped, it was – there was no, nothing that said I actually did this other than the initial charge and the initial arrest,” Edwards said regarding his meeting with the Board before he was hired. “And then I was out, I was cleared free of it but I still had to address that. So in the back of my mind I think that maybe, was a part in the back of their mind.”
Edwards says ultimately the players and the program also suffer in his absence and that his personal life should have no bearing on his previous work with student-athletes.
“You know, don’t look at me for what domestic violence charge I have. Don’t look at me because a picture that was not issued – not intended for the community to see – was put out. You know, judge me on my substance. Judge me on the work that I’ve done. Judge me on the several kids that are playing division I, II, II NAIA football that I helped get there.”
After the special called meeting the MPSD Board of Trustees released this statement:
“The Meridian Public School Board of Trustees is focused on our goals related to increased academic achievement, quality learning, safe and attractive schools, retaining highly qualified teachers, and partnering with parents and the community. All Board decisions are made based on educational norms, ethical standards, and district policies. This Board will continue to move forward to make our district positive and productive for the community.”
WTOK reached out to Meridian Public Schools after Edwards’ interview and the district had no further statement at that time.