Gary Phillips Approved as New Executive Director
THOMASTON - In a special called meeting of the State Executive Committee, the Georgia High School Association on Wednesday unanimously approved the election of Gary Phillips to replace the retiring Dr. Ralph Swearngin as Executive Director. Phillips, the GHSA assistant executive director since 2001, will assume his new role on July 1, 2014.
Phillips had been nominated by the GHSA Board of Trustees after four candidates had been interviewed, and the board’s pick was ratified by a 52-0 vote on Wednesday in a meeting at the GHSA office.
“I am profoundly honored for the trust and support expressed by the members of the Executive Committee,” said Phillips. “Ralph Swearngin has been a great steward of the Georgia High School Association. I can only hope to carry on the legacy he has created over the past 20 plus years, first as the assistant director and the last 13 as its director.
“The challenges to the association will continue and I can say we will work diligently for the betterment and prolonged success of the Georgia High School Association.”
Phillips was principal of Fayette County High School for 15 years before coming to the GHSA 12 years ago. Prior to that, Phillips had been a football coach at Fayette County, West Rome, Central of Macon and Johnson County. Phillips’ 1979 Johnson County team, led by a running back named Herschel Walker, won the state Class A football championship.
Swearngin became the GHSA’s executive director in 2001. He had served the GHSA since 1992, originally as commissioner of officials and deputy director before replacing Tommy Guillebeau as executive director.
“I am very pleased that the GHSA Executive Committee selected Gary Phillips to be the next Executive Director,” said Swearngin. “For the past 12 years, Gary has been vitally important to the operations of the GHSA and has been extremely helpful to me as I carried out my duties.
“Gary’s background in school operations, plus his work with the GHSA and the National Federation of State High School Associations prepares him well to take the administrative leadership of this association. The landscape of education on the local and the statewide level is changing radically and rapidly, and I believe that Gary will provide vision and leadership to move the GHSA forward into new territory.”
The GHSA has had only four previous executive directors, beginning with Sam Burke (1946-81) and including Bill Fordham (1982-91) and Guillebeau (1992-2000).