Posted: 6:16 pm Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Darren Studstill fired for “off-the-field management,” principal says 

By Jason Lieser

To read the story that ran in Thursday morning’s paper, click here.

Coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history, it was obvious Royal Palm Beach did not fire Darren Studstill for his team’s performance on the field.

Instead, principal Guarn Sims said Wednesday, Studstill was released from his position because of off-field management.

“This has nothing to do with wins and losses,” Sims said. “It certainly had nothing to do with on-the-field, so it was primarily the overall management of other components.

“In all respect to Coach Studstill, I’m not going to release any specific information as to why I made that decision. It was just time to move the program in another direction.”

The two talked in Sims’ office for over an hour and a half yesterday, marking their third meeting in the past two weeks. During those discussions, Sims made it clear to Studstill that his job was in jeopardy.

Studstill said two of the issues they discussed were finances and managing the assistant coaches. While Sims declined to divulge specifics on Studstill’s dismissal, multiple sources verified that disagreement on how to handle those two aspects of the program ultimately cost Studstill his job.

Studstill, 38, said he did not deliberately misuse team money, but he acknowledged he and Sims had different views on spending and accounting.

“I don’t think there was inappropriate use of funds,” Studstill said. “I’m no thief. I don’t need to take anybody’s money.”

Studstill was given at least two different opportunities to resign during his series of meetings with Sims, but said he did not believe it was fair.

“I just couldn’t do it,” Studstill said. “That’s not my way. I didn’t think it was deserved and I didn’t think it was the right thing for the kids.”

He will retain his position working with the administration on discipline issues at the school.

Former Olympic Heights and John I. Leonard coach Frank Kunf, who teaches and coached golf at Royal Palm Beach, is the team’s new head football coach. Florida schools start practices Monday.

Studstill spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Royal Palm Beach before taking the head job last year. The Wildcats went 11-2 and reached the regional finals under his watch.

Sims suspended Studstill and an assistant coach for Royal Palm Beach’s Oct. 24 game against Lake Worth after a dispute between the two, but Studstill’s first season was otherwise successful. He was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Coach of the Year award last year.