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Venice High School to begin searching for a new head football coach

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VENICE, FL (WWSB) - A big blow to Venice High School's football program. A major sponsor pulled it's support following the firing of head coach John Peacock.

It's been several weeks since Coach Peacock was fired as head of the football team. In that time members of the community have begun to speak up about how they feel… now there's a petition going around to reinstate the coach.

"My family and I have been very humbled by the out-pour from the community and the support we've received so far," Peacock said.

Coach Peacock's firing has had a wide-ranging community impact nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition to bring him back.

"You would think people just wouldn't care but people do care. I think they care because of the kids. That's one thing we've lost the focus on is what's best for the kids," Peacock said.

In late April, Peacock was fired by Venice High Principal Eric Jackson after it surfaced that Peacock had "liked" a tweet targeting Braden River football Coach Curt Bradley. Some felt the tweet was racist in nature referencing Bradley and a spray tan bottle.

"My wife and I have sat down on the weekends and taken some classes, a little bit of sensitivity training as far as opponents. I need to try to be nicer to our opponents," said Peacock.

Principal Eric Jackson told us he stands behind his decision and wanted to make clear that Peacocks' firing wasn't just over a tweet, but as he put it, a series of missteps that lead to this outcome.

"The main thing is the focus on the kids right now. I don't want to be a distraction to them but at the same time I do want my job back. I've put 19 years in it and I've built something special there," Peacock said.

Peacock is still a teacher at Venice High School – although he's been stripped of his coaching responsibilities.

"From day one when I took this job I said this was a special community. I felt honored to be the head coach of this community and I still do today," said Peacock.

In response to the firing, Venice Football's signature sponsor Bill Buck Chevrolet pulled their support of the program. The dealerships owner, Robyn Calkins, is the one who started the online petition. She told us she's holding out hope that her petition will change the principals mind.

The school plans to begin the search for a new coach next week.

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