Supporters and friends of Tim Singleton, the CEO of Strive to Excel and head coach of the Hilton Head Island High School football team, gathered Monday at his church to pray and show Singleton "some brotherly love," the Rev. Benjamin Williams said.
"You have proved with your presence that you love Tim, too," Williams told the gathering of about 70 people at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. The audience included Singleton and newly installed Strive board president Ike Evans.
Singleton has come under scrutiny after recent revelations that he has operated Strive, a nonprofit mentoring program based in Hilton Head High, with little financial oversight or board governance in recent years.
The Hilton Head High football team has also been fined by the S.C. High School League after the school turned itself in for playing ineligible players. The school suspended Singleton from coaching duties for two weeks.
The group prayed, sang "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and read a short passage from Philippians in the Bible. They counted off, one by one, as a testament to how many people came out to support Singleton.
After the count off, Williams said that with that many supporters present, they could not only change attitudes on Hilton Head, but were capable of changing the world for the right reason.
Then, the meeting was closed to media.
Before the meeting, Williams said God had laid it on his heart to pray for Singleton.
"This meeting is just for spiritual support," he said.
Only a handful of people had trickled out by 9 p.m., two hours after the meeting started. Several declined comment.
Gloria Murray said she came out to support Singleton because she wants the Strive program to remain in Hilton Head high and middle schools. Murray attends the church and said she has known Singleton since he was a boy.
Murray's daughter was enrolled in the mentoring program in 2000, and her goddaughter was also a Strive participant. Both have graduated from college, earned master's degrees and have good jobs, she said.
"And it's all because of Tim Singleton," Murray said.