PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A petition calling for the reinstatement of Mike Whittington as the Churchland High School athletic director has racked up close to 1,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon.

Whittington was removed from the athletic director position after an assistant coach impersonated a JV player and suited up for a basketball game against Nansemond River last month.

Arlisha Boykins, the 22-year-old former assistant coach on the Churchland JV girls basketball team in Portsmouth, impersonated a 13-year-old player who played for the Truckers. The student-athlete was out of town at a club basketball tournament, parents of the girl told WAVY TV 10 Sports Director Craig Loper.

The JV head coach, along with the head coach of the varsity girls basketball team, have both been fired. Sources tell 10 On Your Side that the varsity coach was “encouraging the behavior” during the game.

Shortly thereafter, Whittington was also removed from his post as athletic director, which he’s held since 2017.

A person close to Whittington tells 10 On Your Side that he was home sick with the flu when the game happened, and that he didn’t find out about the impersonation until two days later.

At that point, he claims he let both the Virginia High School Sports League and Portsmouth Public Schools know about the incident, and was initially praised for how he handled it.

“Those coaches are not living up to our core values in the Churchland community,” said Lance Reynolds, a Churchland rec league coach who has previously worked with Whittington.

“It’s completely ridiculous that it’s even been thought that he’s in any way at fault for this,” Reynolds said.

“I just don’t understand why he has to be punished,” said Karena Dixon, a former Churchland basketball player and mother to two Churchland students.

“He’s done a lot for the school. He’s made changes for the better. A lot of students have scholarships because of him,” she said.

Whittington’s family said he has his teaching license so he’s currently teaching history at an elementary school.