CCBOE names AHSAA’s Wanda Gilliland first district-wide athletic director


Wanda Gilliland, who retired from the AHSAA in June, is set to be named the first-ever district-wide athletic director for Cullman County Schools. / Image courtesy of the AHSAA

CULLMAN – In the wake of the July 1 resignation of West Point track coach A.J. Lamar amid allegations of improper conduct with a student, Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) Superintendent Shane Barnette has announced the appointment of former Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Assistant Director Wanda Gilliland to the newly-created position of athletic director.  Gilliland retired from the AHSAA on June 1 (see our story, and will work with the CCBOE on a part-time basis. 

Though she will not be officially appointed until the system’s board meeting this coming week, Barnette is confident that Gilliland will come on board as a powerful resource for county schools’ athletic programs.  He sat down with The Tribune on Friday to share the news.

“We are really excited that; on next week’s agenda, we’ll be approving our first district-wide athletic director,” said Barnette.  “That person that I’m going to be asking the board to approve is Wanda Gilliland.  We’re really excited to have her, because she has many years working for the Athletic Association of Alabama.

“One of the responsibilities I’ve asked her to handle is to make sure we’re in compliance throughout our district in all our athletics.  Also, she’s going to be working really close with non-faculty coaches and new coaches in doing some orientation and training and doing some work with the expectations that we have for our sports programs, to do some training with coaches to make sure that we’re treating kids with respect.

“The things she’s going to do will not only make sure that we’re in compliance with Athletic Association rules, but also to make sure that we have a top-notch athletic program.  We want to make sure that we’re building character in our programs, and doing all the things the Cullman County Schools holds in high esteem.  I love sports, but there’s a whole lot more to learn in sports than just sports, and I’m excited to have her on board.”

On Friday afternoon, The Tribune spoke to Gilliland about her appointment.  She shared, “First, I’m excited about being retired and getting to spend time with my family!  But I worked for 38 years, and I know I won’t be able to just sit still for long.

“I want to be able to give back to the schools.  We were put on this earth to give to others, and with the knowledge I gained in the last 38 years with schools and the AHSAA, I feel that I have something to give back.  I am grateful to Mr. Barnette and the board for this opportunity.”

Gilliland has set as one of her goals for the system’s sports programs to see every county school sports program receive a sportsmanship banner, an award given to schools whose athletic teams complete an entire school year with no fines and no ejections from games.

“It’s a lofty goal,” said Gilliland, “but I believe we can achieve it.”

Barnette anticipates that Gilliland’s appointment will make school sports a more positive experience for the students who take part, saying, “We just want to make sure that all sports programs throughout our county are filled with character, and we want to make sure that if we have someone that is in charge of young people, that is directing young people and coaching young people, they’re doing it in a way that is going to build those kids up, and make them be not only the best athletes, but also the best people they can be.  She’s going to help me ensure that.”

More on AJ Lamar’s resignation

According to Barnette, an internal CCBOE investigation into the allegations against Lamar was inconclusive, and he does not foresee any charges being brought against the former coach.

Lamar was placed on administrative leave back in April, after rumors began circulating of inappropriate conduct with a female student-athlete. (

“He hasn’t been terminated,” remarked the superintendent, “he just resigned.  It won’t be official until the board meets, but he’s come and done the paperwork.  I was notified the he was going to officially resign and apply for positions outside the district, and I wished him well.”

Upon the school board’s approval next Thursday night, Lamar’s resignation will be effective July 1.

Barnette said that Lamar’s position at West Point may be filled internally at the school without the hiring of a new faculty member, but that decision has not been finalized.

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