Laurence Manning head of school responds to story about Will Epps, boys basketball program


On Wednesday, June 12, The Sumter Item published a story about long-time Laurence Manning basketball coach Will Epps and his exit from the program. In the story, Epps told The Item that Laurence Manning school board members told him they wanted to "play with their own," a statement he received as being racially charged.

On Wednesday evening, Laurence Manning Head of School Tripp Boykin sent the following response to The Item.

"The mission of Laurence Manning Academy is to provide students with a high-quality
education within a safe, morally rich, and Christ-centered environment that encourages students
to strive for personal excellence as they learn, lead, serve, and worship," the statement read.

"Laurence Manning Academy admits students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin
to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to
students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin
in administration of its educational policies, athletics, and other school administered programs.

"We would like to express our appreciation to Coach Epps for the many years of service to
Laurence Manning Academy, and wish him the best in the future.

"Any inquiry regarding this matter may be directed to Head of School, Mr. Tripp Boykin."

In the original story, Epps told The Item, “I’ve been here for 24 years. I went to school here 12 years. I absolutely love Laurence Manning Academy. My mom worked here for 25 years. I have two siblings that all graduated from here, and we all scored 1,000 points in basketball. It’s my home. They told me they wanted to play with our own. I don’t know what that means to you, but coming from an all-white board, I know what that means to me. And that’s the reason I won’t be returning.”

Epps was not offered a new contract for the boys basketball team, but was offered a contract to remain as the girls basketball coach. He served in both roles this past season. When offered the girls contract, Epps told The Item that he wanted to stay, but wanted to also coach the junior varsity program, but he was told his contract would strictly be for the varsity program.

"I was excited about building this girls program, the same way I built the boys program, coaching both varsity and JV for years and years," Epps said. "I was very disappointed that they weren't interested in building a program and was more interested in playing with their own. Playing with our own goes against what I know is morally and ethically right, and, because of that, I'm leaving the place that I love."