Dec 4, 2012
After 17 years, Bobby Guthrie will retire as the Director of Athletics for Wake County Public Schools.
Guthrie announced his retirement to the Wake County high school athletic directors at a meeting on Tuesday. His last day will be Feb. 28, 2013.
"I had written out what I wanted to say, I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn't say it without breaking down," Guthrie said. "It was so hard to tell them because I respect those guys so much, and I respect them for what they do and I don't want to be letting anyone down."
Guthrie came to Wake County in Aug. 1995, from UNC-Wilmington where he was the head baseball coach for 13 seasons.
Since Guthrie came to Wake County, the school system has seen tremendous growth. When Guthrie arrived, Wake County Schools was home to 12 high schools and 18 middle schools. Today there are 20 high schools and 31 middle schools, and another high school will open next year.
"In just 17 years all that has happened. There has been so much growth, the schools have changed, the conferences have changed, a lot has changed," Guthrie said. "It will probably continue to change as long as there is the growth we have seen. That's probably one of the biggest things that we've faced since I've been here."
Guthrie will retire with over 37 years of service, and it isn't a decision that he took lightly.
"I've been thinking about it for a year so," he said. "One of the reasons was family related. I want to d oa few more things with my family and help them out a little more."
Guthrie already has two granddaughters, and two more are on the way.
"I told the athletic directors today, right now I'm thinking about just being a full-time granddaddy," Guthrie said.
In his 17 years, Guthrie has become nationally known and respected. In 2010, the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations honored Guthrie with a national citation, honoring him for his work in coaching education.
Guthrie has become a national leader for the NFHS Coaching Education program, which aims to provide coaches with information to better do their jobs.
"When I first heard about the NFHS having its own coaching education program, I knew right away I wanted to be a part of that because I thought interscholastic athletics were in trouble," he said. "If we don't watch out, I can really see this going towards where intercollegiate athletics are and we know there are some issues there."
After retiring, Guthrie still plans to be involved with the NFHS.
In his time in Wake County, Guthrie was also very active at the state level, serving on numerous committees with the N.C. High School Athletic Association, as well as sitting on the Board of Directors.
Several challenges have faced Guthrie in his time with the school system, but he has always tried to take a calm, balanced approach to face them.
"I never considered myself a boss of anyone, I consider us all to be in this together, we all work together," he said. "When something comes up, we look at the issues, we look at all the scenarios, and we try to find a solution that is as close to a consensus as we can get."
Some of the issues Guthrie has faced include changing assignment policies, deep budget cuts, coaches pay, a Title IX complaint, state legislation, realignment battles, and threats of pay for play policies, among others.
But despite the challenge over the last 17 years high schools in Wake County have won numerous state championships in a number of sports, and a handful of schools have won NCHSAA Wells Fargo Cups, previously known as Wachovia Cups, recognizing the state's top athletic program for all sports.
"I think athletics in Wake County are pretty good, most sports we have we are very competitive in," he said. "From my viewpoint it has been really fun to watch."
Guthrie said it's not all about wins and losses for him though.
"I don't put much into state championships and stuff. As long as things are being done the right way, I think that's a good thing," said Guthrie.
A replacement for Guthrie will be named at a later date.
NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield released a statement regarding Guthrie's resignation on Tuesday evening.
"Bobby Guthrie is a model athletic administrator and a wonderful person," Whitfield said. "He served Region 3 exceptionally well on our board of directors for four years and he continues to be a leader in the state of North Carolina."
Guthrie has served on the NCHSAA Board of Directors and is also involved in special events, such as state championships. Guthrie plans to continue involvement with the NCHSAA at some level.
"His service and impact on high school athletics will be greatly missed. I wish him well in his retirement but know that I can always call on him if I need him," said Whitfield.