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Buford football legend embroiled in sexting investigation

BUFORD -- A DeKalb high school football coach remembered in Gwinnett as the star running back on Buford's first state championship team has been suspended after a parent accused him of sexting her nude photos of himself.

Michael "Pop" Carson, 51, scored the lone touchdown in Buford's 7-6 win for the state title in 1978 -- the first football state championship won by a Gwinnett school. He was inducted into the Buford Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

Carson's paid suspension comes a week before his Martin Luther King Jr. High School varsity team opens the season against Stockbridge on Sept. 1. Carson's Lions are ranked fifth in Georgia in Class AAAAA. He's been ordered not to have contact with students during an investigation.

DeKalb Schools spokesman Jeff Dickerson said a woman with sons on Carson's team claims he sent her nude photos of himself and inappropriate text messages. Officials are trying to determine how long the texts had been traded and how many photos were sent, Dickerson said.

"We're seeking to glean facts from all parties involved and come to a determination, hopefully within the next couple of days," he said. "I've been led to believe it's more than one photo (involved)."

Dickerson said Carson, who is married, has been cooperative with the investigation. He's not facing any criminal liability.

An interim coach on staff has assumed coaching duties while Carson is sidelined, Dickerson said.

The parent in question told Atlanta's Fox 5 the situation reached a boiling point during a scrimmage Saturday night, when she grew fed up with the nude photos and claimed to have shown them to Carson's wife, school staff and other parents.

Reached on his cell phone Wednesday, Carson declined to discuss the situation.

"I'm not at liberty to comment at this time," he said, "because it is under investigation."

Carson deferred all questions to his attorney, Larry Ellerbe, who did not return calls.

Buford football statistician Phillip Perkins, an assistant coach with the Wolves during their inaugural state championship, said he'd lost touch with Carson over the years but was keen to his prowess as a coach.

"Where he's been, he's had a lot of success," Perkins said.

Carson's team was 12-1 last year and reached the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. They were 8-4 in Carson's first year with the team in 2010.

In 1978, Carson was named Georgia's back of the year. He later played college ball at Alabama State University.

Sports editor Will Hammock contributed to this report.