Editor's Note: Video footage of the raw interview with Jack Welch can be found at the bottom of this article.
In the first television interview since his abrupt retirement, former Copperas Cove ISD Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Jack Welch explained why he left and denied his payout had anything to do with the logo for which he owns the rights.
On Tuesday, Copperas Cove ISD confirmed May 1 would be Welch’s last day and acknowledged it would give him a one-time $80,000 lump sum payment, as part of a resignation and retirement agreement negotiated between him and school officials. But, the district did not explain why it and the coach were parting ways – something that came as a surprise to some, considering Welch had worked for CCISD for 24 years and led two football teams to the state championship game.
In a sit-down conversation with Channel 6 Weekend Sports Anchor Jessica Morrey on Wednesday, Welch said the reason for his departure was that his younger brother, Offensive Coordinator Tracy Welch, was named head coach and athletic director at Lake Worth ISD in North Texas. And, because his coaching staff was expected to follow Tracy, he felt it was the right time to resign and retire in order to allow a new head coach and staff to best serve next year’s team. So, Jack Welch, who had three years left on his contract, agreed to an $80,000 buyout under which he would leave May 1.
Welch had worked together with Tracy for 29 years between multiple athletic programs.
“When Tracy left, that was like taking my heart out of my body,” Welch explained. “He means a lot to me. So, when he left and the coaches left, I knew it was time.”
Welch, as an individual, owns the rights signature canine image in the Copperas Cove ISD Bulldawg logo. The district does not. While that is certainly unusual, Welch said he never profited off the logo and has agreed to allow the district to continue using the image for the next 10 years – at no cost. Below, he explains how he came to own the logo in the first place.
“I developed the logo – many, many years ago – for the Welch Foundation. I’m president of the Welch Foundation, started the Welch Foundation to give scholarships to area graduates. And, it’s a 501c3. And, that was the logo that I put on our brochures and our information. A lot of people liked that logo. And, they asked to use the logo, and it kind of swept through the school. I had board members ask me if they could use the logo. Then, the school wanted to use the logo. That was not developed for the school. The logo was not developed for the school. I developed the logo, and I have two patents on the logo. I have a Texas patent. And, I have a U.S. patent on it. And, so I’ve allowed and I’m happy to allow the school to use it for over a decade.”
In addition, Welch said he does not own the actual “Bulldawg” name on the logo – only the image. In fact, he said the changing of CCISD’s mascot name from Bulldogs to Bulldawgs happened naturally over time, as newspapers and local television stations began using the second spelling. He said he was not responsible for the name change.
“It was not done for CCISD. CCISD liked it, and they wanted to use it,” Welch explained. “And, I’m happy to let them use it at no cost.”
Welch said he has nothing but good things to say about Copperas Cove ISD and would lend himself as a resource during the new coach search.
“I want a top-notch coach to come into Copperas Cove,” Welch said. “And, I want to do everything I can to help them.”
During the interview, Welch also dispelled two rumors that circulated in recent weeks. First, he said he did not interview at Lake Worth – even though his brother will be there. Second, he said he did not clean out his office until Monday.
Before Welch joined the district in 1994, the football program had not reached the playoffs in 30 years and had only had one winning season in 1976. Under his leadership, the program appeared in 18 playoffs and had 20 winning seasons. The Bulldawgs placed more than 300 players on college football teams during Welch’s tenure and had 13 players go on to the NFL/CFL.
Welch also praised the entire athletic program, which was recently ranked 15th in a regional poll. He expressed how pleased he was to watch all sports grow – not just football. He specifically praised the track and power-lifting teams for winning state championships in recent years. He described the volleyball and basketball programs as “trendsetters” and the baseball and softball programs as “forces to be reckoned with.”
The next batch of football coaches will have a lot of talent with which to work. Several strong returning varsity players will be back in the fall, and both junior varsity squads were undefeated district champions last season.
Dozens of people have come out to congratulate Welch on his retirement, including Heisman Trophy Winner and NFL Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III, who graduated in 2008.
“Congratulations on a great career as a coach and leader in the Central Texas area,” RGIII said. “You brought a discipline and winning tradition with you, and it will have a lasting impression on the area. It was a pleasure to play for you and your staff. I am a Bulldawg for life, and so are you.”
Welch said he will sit out from any jobs for at least one calendar year to make the most of Texas’ public education retirement system. But, he said he had done some interviewing and had fielded a few calls after his retirement was announced. So, he could end up elsewhere in future years.
Welch plans to hold a celebration for his coaches and Copperas Cove community at some point soon.
“This is not about Jack Welch in my mind,” he said. “I want to celebrate our coaches. I want to celebrate our players. And, I want to celebrate the great things in our community that have happened.”