High School Sports

Beaufort High baseball coach guilty in DUI case

Beaufort High School baseball coach Brook Dixon was found guilty Tuesday of driving under the influence in a 2009 incident, and Beaufort County School District officials have not said if the conviction will cost him his job in the dugout or the classroom.

Dixon was sentenced to time served in jail and fined $267. He will be required to enroll in the S.C. Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program, which offers education and treatment for DUI offenders.

Dixon, who is starting his seventh season as Eagles coach, declined comment as he left the Arthur Horne Building off Ribaut Road.

A six-person jury heard testimony from Beaufort County Sheriff's Cpl. Travis Hovest, the arresting officer and prosecutor in the case, and arguments from Dixon's lawyer, Scott Lee. Beaufort County Magistrate Judge Mark Fitzgibbons delivered the sentence.

Lee asked Fitzgibbons for leniency and told the judge Dixon did not want to lose his job.

"Beaufort needs him around here," Lee said.

The Eagles open their baseball season Feb. 25 against rival Battery Creek in the Lowcountry Invitational.

Beaufort High School principal Dan Durbin said Dixon, 33, likely will meet Friday with district officials. District policy requires employees to report their arrests to their school supervisor and to Jackie Rosswurm, the district's chief administrative and human resource services officer. Rosswurm said treatment of employee arrests depends on the situation, and she would not discuss protocol for a DUI conviction.

"Let me just say, it's a personnel matter," she said. "And we will deal directly with the employee concerning it."

Superintendent Valerie Truesdale said Tuesday that Dixon "has not been suspended (from his job) at this point" but added that she does not yet know the details of the incident that led to his arrest.

Dixon, who coached Beaufort High's baseball team in a scrimmage Monday at Hilton Head High, also was charged with DUI in April 2008, according to court records. He was found not guilty in a bench trial.

Beaufort High athletics director Jerry Linn said he knew of Dixon's 2008 arrest. He thought the 2009 arrest had been cleared up before learning Monday of Dixon's court date Tuesday.

"It's unfortunate this happened to him," Linn said. "I really have sympathy for him. It's tough for a young kid to get stuck like this."

Hovest testified that he stopped Dixon at 12:28 a.m. on Aug. 28, 2009, after watching Dixon weave in his lane on Sunset Boulevard in Beaufort. Hovest said Dixon's right tires crossed the white fog line and went off the road. The jury watched video of Dixon driving, his field-sobriety tests and his arrest.

Hovest said he smelled alcohol in Dixon's Toyota pickup as he approached. When asked whether he had anything to drink, Dixon said no. He told Hovest he had been at a football scrimmage at Beaufort High. Dixon coached as an assistant on the football team in 2009.

When asked for license, registration and proof of insurance, Dixon provided his license and two copies of registration forms, Hovest said. After getting out of the truck, Dixon saw an old beer can on the ground and told Hovest, unprompted, it did not belong to him.

Dixon wore a T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops, which became a point of debate during a "walk-and-turn" sobriety test, video showed. Hovest told Dixon he might want to remove the flip-flops because they might cause him to trip. Dixon said the shoes did not fit well but that he would leave them on, the video showed. But he later removed the flip-flops and performed the test in bare feet.

At the Beaufort County Detention Center, Dixon refused a Breathalyzer test and spent the night in jail.

Lee argued Dixon stopped his truck in a timely manner, did not need help to exit the truck and did not slur his speech. Dixon's attorney used a point in the video, during which Dixon bent down to retrieve his flip-flops and place them off to the side, to argue Dixon was not drunk.

Hovest was also the arresting officer in the 2008 charge.

Hovest told the jury Tuesday he had been with the Sheriff's Office six years, with three years on the traffic team. He said he has logged more than 300 hours in DUI enforcement training and has trained other officers.

Hovest was recognized by the S.C. Department of Public Safety for his 76 DUI arrests in 2009, placing him in the department's gold category for 50 or more arrests. Hovest also reached gold status with 50 or more DUI arrests in 2008.