After a school board rejected West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s application to coach the boys’ varsity basketball team at Greenbriar East High School, he seethed, sending out a statement on Tuesday night calling the ruling “manifestly arbitrary and capricious” and “vile.” He said that he was “hurt” by the board’s “hate” for him. Justice, who already coaches the girls’ team, argued he deserved the job based on a stellar record of coaching both teams in the past, having led them to more wins in two dozen seasons than any coach in Greenbrier’s history. The governor—a coal tycoon and West Virginia’s richest person—also paid to have new floors put in the school gymnasium, with his giant signature embossed on the parquet.
Initially, the school gave him the job after the previous boys’ coach stepped down but parents and residents expressed concern that Justice wouldn’t be able to give the team his full attention, and that he should really be focusing on tackling the horrendous surge of COVID in the state. Justice’s lawyer threatened “legal action” should he not get the gig but the board ultimately voted 3-2 to deny his application. “I have no animosity toward the governor at all,” said one board member. “I just don’t see how he can be at both the girls’ games and boys’ games and still do his job as governor.”