After 46 seasons on sidelines, Wright walks away

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2000

Lum Wright, the third-winningest high school coach in the country, has stepped down as head coach at Chamberlain-Hunt Academy.

Wright turned in his letter of resignation on Nov. 30, according to Wright and school secretary Fran Holman.

Principal Shane Blanton was out of the office Thursday and unavailable for comment.

“We appreciate all Lum Wright has done and wish him the best in his retirement,” Holman said.

Wright declined comment.

“I’d rather not talk about it right now,” he said when reached at his home Thursday night.

Wright denied that he had resigned when contacted on Nov. 30.

According to several sources, Wright, 69, was unhappy with the school’s administration over some of the disciplinary procedures used against his players during the season, and the frequency with which they were handed out.

Wright hasn’t met with his team as a whole, but has met with some players individually.

One of them, senior linebacker Sam McLemore, said the dispute with the administration led to Wright’s decision.

“It was just the whole mess at school and all the things that have gone on,” McLemore said, adding some younger players took the news particularly hard. “Some of them were pretty upset and thinking about going somewhere else next year.”

Holman said several people have interviewed for the open coaching position, and many others had called to inquire about it, but it had not been filled yet.

In 46 seasons as a head coach in Texas and Mississippi, Wright compiled a 361-126-17 record. He is one of only a handful of coaches to reach the 300-win plateau and ranks third all-time, behind South Carolina’s John McKissick (465 wins) and Texas’ Gordon Wood (405 wins).

Prior to his resignation, Wright was the winningest active coach in the country.

The Warren County native started his coaching career in Elsa, Texas, in 1954, and had stops at two other Texas schools before coming home to Warren Central in 1971.

In 14 seasons there, he turned the Vikings into a Mississippi powerhouse. He won 126 games, including a pair of 27-game winning streaks in the 1970s, and was named Mississippi Coach of the Year three times.

He left WC in 1984, moving on to Port Gibson High School. He coached there for eight seasons, leading the Blue Waves to 66 wins and the school’s last playoff appearance in 1992. After a brief retirement, he became coach at Chamberlain-Hunt in 1994.