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Countryside football coach under investigation

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Fri. September 14, 2012 | John C. Cotey | Email

Countryside football coach under investigation

CLEARWATER — Countryside football coach Jared Davis, who is  22-0 in regular-season games since being hired in 2010, is under investigation by the Pinellas County Office of Professional Standards.

The county’s director of strategic communications, Donna Winchester, confirmed the investigation Friday afternoon, but provided no other details.

Athletic director Lewis Curtwright said Friday night that he hadn’t heard the OPS was investigating his head football coach. He also said rumors that Davis would be fired or suspended as a result were untrue.

The investigation may stem from the removal of volunteer assistant coach Derrick Smith this week. Smith, who helped coach defensive backs, was relieved of his duties when it was discovered he had made inappropriate comments to a Cougars football player. That player told his parents, who called the school to complain.

“He made comments that were absolutely inappropriate,’’ Curtwright said. “Whenever someone makes an inappropriate comment, we take it very seriously.’’

Curtwright said he does not remember what the comment was. Winchester confirmed that Smith was no longer volunteering in the county as of Monday.

Smith, who previously coached at Dunedin and Lakewood, is a 35-year-old Clearwater resident. Curtwright described him as a Pinellas County teacher, but he does not have a teacher’s certification in Florida. He also has no criminal record.

Winchester was unable to confirm that the two cases are related because of the ongoing investigation of Davis, but Curtwright said if there is an investigation, then he suspects that is the case. He maintained his surprise at the investigation and thinks Winchester may have meant to say the county is talking with Davis about the Smith case.

“I don’t know that he’s being investigated,’’ Curtwright said, “unless they’re doing something we don’t know about.’’

When reached at the Countryside locker room hours before Friday night’s matchup with Largo, Davis said, via an assistant, that all questions should be directed to principal Gary Schlereth, who said, "I am not commenting on anything."

Times news researcher Natalie A. Watson contributed to this report.

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