LEWISBURG — Gov. Jim Justice’s return to the sideline with the Greenbrier East boys basketball team will have to wait.
The Greenbrier County Board of Education voted 5-0 on Tuesday to table a motion to hire Justice as the school’s boys basketball coach until its next regular meeting, scheduled for Sept. 14.
The board spent almost 90 minutes in executive session discussing personnel matters before announcing its decision to delay the vote.
Board members Kay Smith and Ray Parker sat out of the executive session deliberations for about 20 minutes before being called back in with the rest of the board. Smith, a retired Greenbrier County teacher, confirmed Justice was superintendent Jeff Bryant’s pick for the job on Monday.
There was no public discussion of Justice other than the acknowledgement by the board that he remained Bryant’s recommended candidate for the position.
Bryant previously served as principal at Greenbrier East High School, where Justice has coached the girls basketball team since 2000. Justice pulled double-duty as the boys coach from 2010 to 2017 before resigning during his first term as governor, saying that among his duties, “first and foremost is [being] governor.”
Asked about possibly coaching the boys team again during a COVID-19 vaccination lottery event Tuesday in Beckley, Justice told MetroNews running the state remains his “number one responsibility.”
“That’s my first and foremost responsibility,” Justice said. “I challenge anybody and everybody: Find something I’ve missed. I can tell you all the things that I’ve done. But find something I’ve missed — because I don’t miss very often. And I’m going to stay dead on top of that. That’s the number one honor and number one responsibility.”
In addition to being governor during a pandemic, Justice continues to remain involved in his family’s business empire, which he did not divest himself from when first elected governor in 2016. He was reelected in 2020.
At least one lawmaker, Sen. Randy Smith, R-Tucker, has called on the governor to resign from his office amid substantial financial and legal issues involving the Justice family empire of land, extraction and hospitality businesses, including The Greenbrier resort.
A possible return to the boys basketball court also comes just months after Justice settled a residency lawsuit with former House of Delegates member Isaac Sponaugle, who accused the governor of violating the state Constitution by spending the majority of his time working out of his home in Lewisburg, instead of the state Capitol in Charleston.
As part of the settlement, Justice agreed to “reside” in Charleston.
“I thought a lot about it and everything, surely not to take away from the governorship at all,” Justice told MetroNews. “The superintendent asked me; the principal, the vice principal, the athletic director all want me to do it. And I know I can do the job.
“At my age, I’ll have to have great assistant coaches. And to be perfectly honest, they’ll have to do the work. I’ll coach the game. Nevertheless I love the kids. That’s all there is to it.”