When Billy Haun was on the losing end of a particularly lopsided football game as the head coach at Richlands High School in 1988, his postgame comment was succinct:
“What goes around, comes around.”
Haun’s career in the Virginia High School League has come a long, long way.
Wednesday, the VHSL announced the 58-year-old Strasburg native will become its new executive director, effective July 1.
He will replace Ken Tilley, who spent 30 years with the VHSL including the last 22 in the League’s top position.
Haun has taken a winding road with many stops since he graduated from Virginia Tech in 1980.
He began his coaching career at Pulaski County, serving three years as the football coach at Dublin Middle School and one season as a varsity assistant under former Cougars coach Joel Hicks.
Haun crisscrossed the state as the head football coach at four high schools — George Wythe in Wytheville (1984-86), Richlands (1987-90), Caroline (1991-93), and Western Albemarle (1994-97).
For the last 20 years, Haun worked in school administration, serving as the principal at Monticello High and as assistant superintendent for student learning in Albemarle County.
Haun has spent the past two years in his current job in Richmond as the chief academic officer for the state of Virginia.
While principal at Monticello, Haun served a two-year term on the VHSL Executive Committee.
He was chosen for the VHSL’s top job in a vote by the VHSL over two other finalists including current VHSL assistant director Tom Dolan.
“I thought with my administrative experience that I’ve had, I think that gave me some insight into what a bigger picture job this looks like,” Haun said Wednesday.
“You’re dealing with the entire membership of the Virginia High School League. Northern Virginia looks different than the Tidewater area, and Southside and Southwest Virginia. I think having that perspective and having that knowledge helped me with that.”
While the 34-member executive committee — composed largely of principals and athletic directors — is the VHSL’s policy-making body, Haun views his role as executive director as multi-faceted and one of influence.
“The executive director is to carry out the work of the League,” he said. “That works at different levels. You can look at the innovative side of that and try to look ahead and see what’s happening. I think there’s an enforcement wing, as far as the policy goes, compliance and enforcement.
“There’s a lot of roles that the executive director has.”
Haun said there will be a number of issues that will demand his immediate attention, including recent legislation — the so-called “Tebow Bill” passed by the Virginia Senate but vetoed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe that would have allowed home-schooled students to compete in public school athletics.
“Obviously, you’ve got the homeschool bill,” Haun said. “I’m not saying, yea or nay, but that’s something that’s going to have to be looked at and dealt with.
“I think student safety and the concussion thing with the NFL and the colleges ... student safety is always an issue. The Strategic Plan has expired. It’s time to do another Strategic Plan for the high school league. That’s always exciting when you can look ahead.”