Posted: 9:57 pm Thursday, October 15th, 2009
By Jason Lieser
UPDATED: Oct. 16, 2:53 p.m.
The Benjamin School sent an e-mail to staff Thursday afternoon announcing the immediate resignation of Ron Ream as football coach.
School administrators are not discussing Ream’s resignation publicly and several Benjamin employees said they have been instructed not to speak with the media.
“We’re still focusing on all the issues and details,” said Robert Goldberg, the Head of School at Benjamin. He declined to take any questions or comment further.
Jay Selvig, Head of Upper School, declined comment through a secretary Friday morning.
Ream has not returned voicemails left at his home and his office and did not respond to an e-mail.
Defensive coordinator Jimmy Clark said the move caught the football staff off-guard. Clark also said he was told Ream will remain in his post as athletic director.
“I was very, very surprised,” Clark said. “None of the coaches were expecting this. We were all very shocked. We were not told the details of exactly why he resigned, but he did.
“It was a sad, devastating day to the staff and to the kids.”
Special teams coach Dave Parks said he was “shocked” but he and Clark both declined further comment.
Ream met with his coaches and players Thursday afternoon to inform them of the change.
Offensive coordinator Ryan Smith will coach the team in Friday’s game against Pope John Paul II and is expected to be the interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Multiple sources told The Post a player and a volunteer coach got into an “altercation” during last Friday’s loss to King’s Academy, but it is unknown if there is any link between the incident and Ream’s resignation. The assistant coach involved stepped down and the player was suspended from the team, a source said.
Ream was still listed as head football coach on the school’s website late Thursday night.
Ream was in his 30th season as Buccaneers head coach and had a record of 193-112. He is a member of the Palm Beach County Hall of Fame. He was The Post‘s small schools Coach of the Year in 2005.
Some of Ream’s former players were upset to hear about his resignation, which they believe came under pressure from the school. Several area coaches were displeased, too.
“I’m appalled at the way the school handled the situation and threw someone like Coach Ream under the bus,” said Chris Holmes, a 2007 graduate who played offensive line and linebacker under Ream. “It infuriates me.”
Former quarterback Connor Kempe, a 2008 graduate playing at Dartmouth, added, “The outcry from the alumni is going to be heard very soon. The man was doing nothing wrong. I just find it a little bit absurd that he was somewhat pressured into resigning. That’s the word on the street.”
Former running back T.J. Strunk, Class of 2007, attended Benjamin for 14 years and said Ream was like family to him.
“He’s been one of the most influential people in my life,” said Strunk, who plays for Northeastern. “I feel like the school kind of threw him under the bus. He’s been there for 36 years and he’s given the school so much. To go out like this really isn’t the right thing.
“I’m disappointed in the school and angry at the same time. I don’t know how they could do something like this. He was one of the most respected people at that school.”
Benjamin actually held a walkthrough practice Thursday after Ream’s announcement to the team. Holmes said he talked to one of the current team captains, who said it was a difficult afternoon.
“He said everyone was looking around like the world just ended,” said Holmes, who now plays for Bryant University. “It’s going to be a tough last five games for those guys.”
As of late Thursday night, there was a petition on the website petitiononline.com to reinstate Ream as football coach. This cannot be considered credible evidence at this point, but the letter appears to indicate a perception that Ream was pressured to resign by the school’s trustees.
Here is the text of the petition:
To: The Benjamin School Board of Trustees
The firing of Coach Ron Ream is a travesty and a farce. Never has anyone poured as much dedication and brought as much recognition to the Benjamin School like Coach Ream. He is an icon, a figurehead, and a leader in the Benjamin community. His actions and ideals ought to be emulated by all, and his ability as a football coach is unparalleled. This unjust decision by the Board of Trustees has shaken the Benjamin community. And every student, past, present, and future, have been directly affected by Coach Ream’s legacy. As a collective group, we demand that he be reinstated as Athletic Director, until which time he decides that his time at Benjamin is done. The fact of the matter is that whatever happened on the sideline was not Coach Ream’s doing, and the actions by another man have to bearing or mark upon the reputation of excellence fostered by Coach Ream. Every player under Coach Ream has seen his morals, sincerity, trust, and positivity and has absorbed it. When other teams are cussing on the field, throwing cheap shots, and running up the score, Coach Ream has been the model of tradition and morality. In the face of this scandal, it appears the Board has quickly forgotten this, and has made a brash decision. Let us remind them of their folly, and demand that Coach Ream be given his post back, and that there is justice for Ron Ream and the Benjamin family.