By: Ken LaVicka
ESPN 106.3 Staff Writer
Rod Harris has been fairly quiet since being terminated as Palm Beach Central's head football coach on Monday.
That changed Thursday morning.
In an all-encompassing release sent to various media outlets, Harris gave his side of events. His account portrays principal Butch Mondy and athletic director Ron Matella as meddling nuisances to the football program, accusing Mondy of dismantling the football team's Booster Club and ripping Matella for leaking false circumstances of Harris' removal to the press. Harris says he was given the option to resign, Matella ended any chance of that happening by announcing Harris had been fired.
Harris is adamant that nothing controversial led to his unemployment.
He went 38-27 in six seasons at Palm Beach Central and led the Broncos to three straight playoff appearances dating back to 2011.
Below is Harris' statement:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Palm Beach Central High school for the opportunity to be Head Football Coach the past 6 years. It was a lifelong dream to build a winning football program in South Florida. I also would like to make a statement about the recent events at Palm Beach Central regarding the Head Football Coaching job.
On December 9, 2013 I was given the choice of being fired or resigning. Naturally this completely caught not only me, but the community off guard. I asked and was granted 48 hours to make my decision. I thought I earned that after all the countless hours, hard work, dedication, and loyalty to Palm Beach Central. Unfortunately, this choice was taken away from me based on quotes by Athletic Director Ron Matella to the media that I was fired. Principal Mondy also dismantled the hard working people of our Booster club. These professionals have been pillars of our community for years. Reasons given for my dismissal were not only inaccurate but very trivial in nature. All issues were corrected as they came to light during this past season.
I would have relished the opportunity to hear Principal Mondy or Athletic Director Ron Matella’s views on how to build a winning program that pleased all parties involved. No such meeting ever took place with me at Palm Beach Central in the last three years.
The tasks asked of me were close to impossible while teaching 5 classes a day and only allowed 1 other teacher on campus. However, the impossible is what I gave them. Before people jump to conclusions let me assure everybody there are no skeletons with the football program. There are no pending investigations, no legal ramifications, and no potential issues on the horizon. After 16 years with excellent reviews, I am deeply concerned about my job as an educator. I hope that differences of philosophies were for football purposes only and not my job as a professional teacher.
As the Principal of the school, Mr. Mondy has the right to hire and fire any Coach on staff. He has earned that right as a Principal who is retiring at the end of the current school year. I do disagree with a few remarks recently in the Palm Beach Post. The first one was that I was told all coaches were released of their jobs as coaches, effective immediately. The second was that I was to stop all activities related to football, effective immediately. The third was I was to clean out my office and hand everything in by Thursday December 12, 2013. These were given to me in writing on December 9, 2013 at 2:10 PM. It was also disheartening to hear academics as a potential reason. I begged, asked, and pleaded with administration over the past few years for more academic support for our student athletes. These solutions were denied, repeatedly. As a proactive Coach, we put together tutoring programs during the season and in the off season. It was supervised by coaches and parents thru the community. We felt this was going to be a huge success for our kids.
I have changed my goals for the immediate future. The first is spending more time with my daughter who didn’t see her father as much as we both wanted due to time constraints football demands. The second is to be the best Algebra teacher I can be this year. Last year my students passed the Algebra EOC at 72% rate but we are setting our goals higher. The third goal is get healthy so I can have a better quality of life. Fourth, with two master’s degrees, possibly becoming an administrator. Last but certainly not least, be the best leader, role model, and person I can be for our community.
I would like to thank the Palm Beach Central community for all of their love and support over the years. We took a program that won 13 games in 5 years to a program that won 37 in six years. We made the playoffs 3 straight years, won 2 district titles, and broke every school record in Palm Beach Central history. We sent over 40 kids to college worth over $4.3 million dollars in education. While other programs attendance was dropping 25% in the County, ours rose over 103%. With the wonderful support of the Booster club, we were able to purchase a Helmet tunnel, new Nike home/away jerseys, over 100 new helmets in addition to other annual purchases. We did this and increased our account from roughly $12,000 to over $42,000. We did this with limited administrative support.
It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to represent the school and community over the years. I appreciate all the time and energy given by the coaches, parents, teachers, and community members. My comment to every single football player who ever played for Palm Beach Central is simple. I will practice what I preached to each and every one of you over the years. Life is life, there are good times and bad for all of us. A person’s character isn’t judged by how many times they get knocked down, but how many times they get back up. I have been knocked down but have already picked myself up ready to compete in life again. I am proud of what we accomplished together.
Good luck, God bless, and happy holidays to all.