LOCUST GROVE, Ga. -- Two months after receiving his termination from Strong Rock Christian School just 20 days after getting hired as the head coach, Fernando Bryant still has more questions than answers.
Bryant told 11Alive back in February he was let go because of questionable social media posts, and he was led to believe they were posts made by his wife, Amber Bryant. A source inside the school told 11Alive it was a 3-year-old post that showed the Bryants posing with a bottle of unopened alcohol at a magazine fundraiser.
Bryant has yet to be told explicitly what post Strong Rock had an issue with and feels like the social media picture was a "cop out." He hired an attorney, Steven Wolfe, and filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC. Wolfe confirmed the claim of racial discrimination to 11Alive.
"I felt like I was fired because of discrimination," Bryant told 11Alive's Alec McQuade on Monday.
"I feel like there’s something else. Now, whatever that something else is, I think that’s a cop-out," he said. "If you’re going with something, if that’s what you want to tell the public, fine. But at least sit down with me and explain to me this is what we saw on your social media after we hired you...I’m the first to say, you know what, I completely understand. I’m not going to sit here [while they] use that as a scapegoat just to say that’s our way out."
Strong Rock Christian School has yet to publicly comment on Bryant's termination since February. President David Mann did not respond to 11Alive's multiple requests for comment this week.
The school has since seen two prominent administrators resign. Former CEO Patrick Stewart resigned, according to multiple sources close to the school. In addition, former Athletic Director Phil Roberts resigned and took a head coaching position at Prince Ave. Christian School.
Roberts told 11Alive by phone on Tuesday that he had no comment regarding Bryant's termination at Strong Rock. He said that there was no pressure put on him by the school to resign.
"It's just a good opportunity for my family to be at Prince Avenue," he said. "We're excited about it being closer to our family."
Mann is the only person involved with Bryant's hiring and firing that is still at the school, according to Bryant. He said he doesn't know the circumstances that led to Roberts and Stewart leaving the Christian school, but thinks it speaks for itself.
"Before my hiring, neither one of them was looking for a job somewhere else. I don’t know what that tells you," he said.
The football program has seen a small exodus since Bryant's firing. Bryant said he already knows of three football players who successfully transferred out to other schools. A source close to the program said more are on the way out and some coaches have left, too.
The school hired a new head coach, former Dalton High School wide receivers coach Brad Smith. The hiring has not been made public, but Dalton confirmed the move. Bryant wishes him and his program the best, but wouldn't want to be in that situation.
"I’m sure they had a tough time finding a new coach because no coach wants to work under that kind of scrutiny," he said.
After getting terminated from Strong Rock, Bryant returned to Creekside, where he coached track before getting hired at Strong Rock. Creekside welcomed him back with open arms, and he said they stood by him and supported him.
He will decide what he will do next once the school year has come to an end this month. He said Strong Rock has left a "bad taste" in his mouth regarding private Christian schools, and the only one he'd be willing to work at in the future is Creekside. If he doesn't get into the college ranks, he believes his next step is public school.
While Bryant still faces a myriad of unanswered questions, he said the support he received after his termination is what gave him hope.
"It was so many people that reached out that felt like it had nothing to do with it. That was the one thing that did give me hope, that people did see it was something else regardless of what it was, it was something else behind it," he said.
"It was amazing to me how many coaches in Christian school environment reached out to me and said, 'You know, this is bologna.' "
Bryant, 40, was a first round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Alabama. He played 10 seasons, spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, where he won a Super Bowl. He had 472 total tackles and seven interceptions in his NFL career.
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