10/17/04 — KHS coach suddenly resigns

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KHS coach suddenly resigns

Published in Sports on October 17, 2004 2:00 AM

Courtesy Kinston Free Press

KINSTON -- Kinston High School football coach Lonnie Baker resigned Thursday and is being investigated by the Lenoir County School system and the Kinston Department of Public Safety.

Safety department Cmdr. Greg Thompson said the investigation of Baker began Thursday after his department received an allegation of assault on a female. Thompson said the allegation wasn't sexual.

The 58-year-old coach was also being investigated by Lenoir County Schools before Thursday, Superintendent John Frossard said. Frossard wouldn't reveal why the investigation was being conducted.

However, Frossard said the Baker investigation came to a close when the coach resigned.

"We don't continue investigations when people no longer work for us," Frossard said.

Multiple calls by The Free Press to Baker's home weren't returned.

Kinston principal Craig Hill announced the resignation to the players at Thursday's practice.

A source close to the situation said Hill spoke to the assistant coaches first, then asked the players sit in the stands for the announcement.

Hill "was as shocked as anyone," the source said. "He told the team to come together as a family and overcome this." As a group, the players were concerned about Baker's resignation.

"Most of the players were pretty upset because Baker was working on helping them get scholarships," the source said. "Now, they're wondering who's going to help them. Everybody was really down."

On Friday, Hill appointed 29-year-old Stephen Walter as interim head coach. Walter played football at and graduated from KHS in 1993. After graduation from Notre Dame, he coached at Anson County, Charlotte Olympic and West Charlotte. Before joining the Kinston staff this year, Walter was the defensive line coach and assistant defensive coordinator at West Charlotte.

Walter led the Vikings to a 21-10 win against Winterville South Central on Friday.

Walter "is the coach for the balance of the season," Hill said. "We will advertise for the head football position at Kinston High School at the season's completion."

The Vikings set a record last season for most wins in a season when they finished 9-4. Kinston hosted its first-ever home playoff game, defeating Southern Nash 6-0 before being knocked out of the playoffs by Goldsboro in the second round.

Baker's 14-6 record in two seasons at KHS gave him the best winning percentage (.700) of any coach in school history. Baker, a Kinston native who graduated from Grainger High School, came out of retirement in January 2003 to coach the Vikings.

Although he only coached at KHS for a year and a half, Baker leaves the Vikings with the fourth-most coaching wins in the school's 35-year history. Only Sam Green (a 37-34 record from 1973-79), Ralph Holloway (37-57 from 1989-97) and Jeff Price (21-36 from 1998-2002) had more wins than Baker at KHS.