Beaufort High School baseball coach Brook Dixon apologized Thursday to his players and their parents during a meeting at the school's baseball field, the last time Dixon can be with his team on the field until after the Eagles' Feb. 26 game against Hilton Head High in the Lowcountry Invitational.
Dixon will serve a five-game baseball suspension after the coach was found guilty Tuesday of driving under the influence, but he will keep his teaching and coaching jobs. He will not receive a suspension from the classroom, principal Dan Durbin said.
Durbin on Thursday gave parents an opportunity to ask Dixon questions or raise concerns. No one spoke. Parents shook Dixon's hand and talked with Durbin and athletics director Jerry Linn before leaving the field. Linn said most of the group was supportive.
"I take full responsibility for my actions," Dixon said in an e-mail after the meeting. "I know I've let my team and my community down, but I appreciate the opportunity I've been given to again earn their trust."
Assistant coach Scott Rast will coach in Dixon's absence. Dixon will not be allowed to coach games or practices during his suspension, which will span three scrimmages and the Eagles' first two games in the Lowcountry Invitational, Linn said.
Durbin said Dixon deserved a second chance, that school officials were not in the business of destroying lives.
"We would never put our students in a position where they could be harmed," Durbin said. "But at the very best, you would hope the coach and the students would learn a really hard lesson. You can do a lot of great things with your life and one mistake can take all those great things away from you."
Dixon met Wednesday with Beaufort County schools chief administrator Jackie Rosswurm, who handed down the suspension. Rosswurm said she reminded Dixon he is required to notify her office after an arrest. Dixon will be required to tell Rosswurm when he completes court-mandated drug and alcohol courses.
"Our goal is to make sure we have the best and most qualified role models for our kids," Rosswurm said. "And I think that in this case, going through some sort of assistance, which I believe these courses will do, is critical. But we're also very clear with him that he needed to make sure this sort of thing does not occur (again)."
Dixon is starting his seventh season as Eagles coach. He was arrested in August 2009 after Beaufort County Sheriff's Cpl. Travis Hovest saw Dixon weaving in his lane on Lady's Island. A six-person jury on Tuesday found Dixon guilty of DUI first offense after watching video of the traffic stop and field sobriety tests and hearing testimony from Hovest. Dixon was sentenced to time served and a $267 fine. He will be required to complete the S.C. Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.