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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is giving up his fight to take on a second basketball coaching job in his home county.
In a letter dated Tuesday — shared with news media by Steve Ruby, an attorney representing the governor — Justice told the Greenbrier County Board of Education he was withdrawing his name from pursuing the position of coach of the Greenbrier East High School boys basketball team. Justice already coaches the girls team at the same high school.
‘The great State of West Virginia honored me with its highest honor when the people elected me twice as their governor. Other than GOD above and my family, I place my duties as governor above all else,” Justice wrote.
“And I have delivered for West Virginia and will continue delivering. I have not dropped any balls nor will I. Vacations and parties are not Jim Justice. All I do is work, and love my work, and love the people of West Virginia, especially the kids,” he added.
Throughout the two-page letter, Justice outlined his qualifications for the coaching position. He also noted that state law requires public entities hire the most qualified candidate for an open position.
“One would have to think that 20 years as head coach, 26 seasons (six boys, 20 girls), with all exemplary evaluations and incredible success should really speak volumes,” Justice wrote.
But Justice also hinted that his fight for the boys basketball coaching position had brought about criticism.
Supporters of the governor have spoken to the board in favor of him having the job, but players on the basketball team have said they want a coach fully dedicated to the position.
On Aug. 24, the Greenbrier County Board of Education voted 3-2 to reject the governor’s application for the second coaching gig. Justice then brought forth a public employee’s grievance, arguing he was the most qualified candidate to coach the boys’ team.
Now, Justice’s efforts to get the second coaching position are effectively over.
“I refuse to spend time fighting HATE. My Dad said over and over to me that you should never try to teach an elephant to sing — the elephant will never be able to do it and you’ll only frustrate yourself,” Justice wrote in the letter. “I don’t have time to be frustrated. We need to move forward. Pick a coach. The kids deserve that, and I wish them all the success.”
Last week, former state lawmaker Del. Isaac Sponaugle informed Justice of his plans to bring a lawsuit over where the governor was residing, noting Justice’s interest in the second coaching position.
A state constitutional mandate requires the governor and certain other elected state officials to “reside at the seat of government.”
After years of legal wranglings — which at one time put the case in front of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals — Sponaugle and Justice settled a previous suit on the matter in March 2021, after the governor agreed to live in Charleston.
It was unclear Tuesday evening whether Sponaugle would continue to pursue legal action over the governor’s residency in a renewed case.