Woodrow Lowe is no longer the football coach of the Central Red Devils.
Phenix City interim superintendent Rod Hinton confirmed that after four seasons as the Red Devils coach, Lowe's coaching contract was not renewed. Lowe has the option to remain at the school in his capacity as a physical education teacher, however, should he choose to do so.
"He is not terminated," Hinton clarified. "But he will not be the head football coach. He can continue as physical education teacher. He has a job there, and we plan to employ him 12 months. Just not as head football coach."
Central High principal Tommy Vickers said that Lowe had not made a determination on his future and would decide after discussing options with his family.
Never miss a local story.
Vickers added that the decision was made by a combination of himself, his administrative staff, the superintendent and staff at the school board.
Lowe, a Central High alumnus, coached the Red Devils for four seasons (2010-13). Over that span, he compiled a 33-13 record, but went 6-4 and missed the playoffs in 2013. Under his watch, the team went 19-7 in region play and 3-3 in the playoffs.
Lowe had his best season as Central's coach in 2011, when he led the Red Devils to an 11-3 record and a berth in the state semifinals.
He also coached three years at Smiths Station from 2005-07, where the Panthers went 12-19 and made the playoffs once in 2006. He was 10-10 in two seasons at Selma in 1994-95.
Overall, he had a 55-42 record as a head coach.
"Tying the community in with our players was a step in the right direction," Vickers said of Lowe's accomplishment as coach. "Now we're just looking to take it to another level of complete development and continue to move this program forward as we continue to grow."
Hinton said the decision was based off of a number of factors, not simply the team's failure to make the playoffs this past season for the first time since 2008.
"Football is more than X's and O's," he said. "It's so much more. It's very complicated. All the requirements, managing the coaches and the program that goes through three schools. It's a complex process now. We felt like we needed to make some changes that the program needed.
"You always want to win football games. It was much more than that, though. ... There are a lot of changes that we need to make to maximize the potential."
Speaking about why the decision came so far after the football season, Hinton said the process was not taken lightly. They respect Lowe and his contributions to the program, he said, and took their time in making the determination not to renew his contract.
"We always talk about doing the right thing the right way for the right reasons, and I can assure you that's how this decision was made," he said. "It wasn't a rash decision. It was something we've been trying to work on and work with (Lowe) on."
A process to find a successor has not begun, though Hinton said confidently the timing would not affect the candidates.
"Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think that's going to be a problem," he said of finding candidates. "I think a lot of people would love to be the football coach at Central High."
Vickers said they'd like to get a coach in place before mid-June so he has plenty of time to begin the workout program and begin training coaches and getting familiar with players.
Also announced in the press release was a change in the responsibilities of basketball coach and athletic director Bobby Wright.
Wright, who had been teaching at the freshman academy, will leave his teaching position and serve as the district athletic director, overseeing athletics at all of the Phenix City schools. He will also continue in his role has head basketball coach.
Ron Nelson and Carolyn Wright, Bobby's wife, will continue to assist Bobby as associate athletic directors.