Hillcrest football coach Earnest Sutton fired after DUI charge

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Earnest Sutton, the varsity football coach at Hillcrest, has been fired as coach and suspended for a year as a dean at the school after being charged with drunken driving and possession of marijuana, the district superintendent said Wednesday.

The Bremen Community High School District 228 Board made the decision regarding the future of Sutton after a closed session on Tuesday night, Supt. Bill Kendall said.

Sutton was charged with DUI, possession of marijuana and improper parking in a roadway after Homewood police found him passed out in his car about 2:40 a.m. June 10 at 183rd Street and Kedzie Avenue, police said.

About 60 people attended a Tuesday night meeting at Hillcrest in Country Club Hills, and about 15 spoke, all in support of Sutton.

Sutton briefly addressed the board, apologizing for the incident and asking the board to not dismiss him and “give consideration to me as a whole person.

“I’m really remorseful. Up until this incident I didn’t know I had a problem,” said Sutton, who according to records has been charged with DUI twice previously. “Over the years I’ve done a lot for the children in this community. I dedicated my life to these kids. Me being terminated is not the best course of action.”

Country Club Hills resident Clifton Graham Jr., head of the south suburban chapter of the NAACP, described Sutton as a “legend in this community, and 99 percent of what I’ve heard about him has been super positive.”

Theo Chapman, a Hillcrest alumnus and a parent of a student at the school, told the board that “punishing those with addictions is not the solution. He has taught, mentored and shaped the lives of many children. Issue sanctions, but allow him to regain honor.”

Sutton, 46, of Flossmoor, a 1985 graduate of Bremen High School, became Hillcrest’s football coach in 1999 and also has worked as a dean there for four years.

Traffic and court records show that Sutton was charged with DUI in Markham in 2000 and a year ago in Chicago Heights.

His next court date for the latter case is July 10 at the Cook County courthouse in Markham, according to court records. The disposition of the 2000 case was not clear as of Wednesday.

Sutton’s next court date for his June 10 arrest is Aug. 5.

Sutton admitted to officers during the June 10 stop that he was drinking alcohol earlier in the day, and his breath smelled of alcohol and he failed a field sobriety test, according to police. They said he was carrying 2.4 grams of marijuana when he was arrested, and there were 2.2 grams of marijuana in his car.

Messages left Wednesday with District 228 board president John Kirkton, board member Evelyn Gleason, district spokeswoman Lori DeVos and Hillcrest athletic director Lisa Wunar were not returned.

Contributing: Susan DeMar Lafferty

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