March 16, 2010

Deering's baseball coach resignsCONTINUED FROM THE FRONT PAGE/NATION

TOM CHARD

— By

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Photo by Michael York, Monday, June 16, 2003: Deering coach Mike D'Andrea gives some direction to his son #10 Mike D'Andrea between innings in the game versus Mt. Ararat in bangor Monday night. york photo

Staff Writer

Deering High School's Mike D'Andrea, under fire over a victory party that allegedly involved underage drinking by students in the presence of assistant coaches, resigned Tuesday as both head baseball coach and girls' basketball coach at the school.

D'Andrea's resignation follows the dismissal last week of three of his assistant coaches as a result of a June 21 party following Deering's win over Brewer for the Class A state baseball championship.

D'Andrea told the Press Herald last week that he was not at the party and had little knowledge of it, a point he reiterated in his resignation letter to Superintendent Jeanne Whynot-Vickers and Deering Principal Ken Kunin.

He also cited ''the scrutiny this event has placed on me'' during the school district's investigation.

''After the revelation of recent events involving the Deering baseball team, I feel this is the appropriate decision for me at this point in my coaching career,'' D'Andrea said in the letter. ''I want to make it clear that I did nothing wrong and this resignation should in no way infer to anyone an admission of improper actions.''

Kunin said that D'Andrea, who teaches physical education, will remain at the school as a teacher.

''We received and accepted Mr. D'Andrea's resignation as coach of boys' baseball and girls' basketball,'' Kunin said. ''We agree with Mr. D'Andrea that the resignation was the right thing to do, and we respect his decision.''

Kunin said last week that the investigation of the party could lead to student suspensions at the start of the school year.

Portland police have been conducting their own inquiry, which could result in charges. Lt. Tony Ward said Tuesday that the department's investigation is ongoing.

D'Andrea has been Deering's baseball coach since 1997 and its girls' basketball coach since 2001. His teams won seven state titles in baseball and two in girls' basketball.

John Coyne, chairman of the Portland School Committee, said he has known D'Andrea for years. He credited the coach for establishing a winning program in which youngsters looked forward to participating.

''The kids are upset by this. He was a loved coach. Mike built a great program,'' Coyne said.

Coyne said the School Committee's role in replacing him will be minimal. Coaches are hired by principals under contracts that remain in effect for one year.

D'Andrea said in the letter that this won't be the end of his coaching career, but that he needs time to ''re-evaluate my goals and recharge my batteries.''

''I am confident that this is the right decision for me both on a professional and personal basis. I am grateful for the opportunities that have been provided to me by Deering High.''

Doug Candage, father of Deering pitcher Taylor Candage, said D'Andrea's departure will be felt, and he called him ''one heck of a baseball coach.''

''I'm sorry to see him go,'' said Candage. ''He's taught my kids a lot about baseball and was always straightforward with me if I had a question.

''Obviously, I don't condone drinking. I feel sorry for the whole baseball situation at Deering. It's a great baseball program.''

South Portland High School baseball coach Tony DiBiase was D'Andrea's basketball coach at Portland High in the 1980s and coached against him in the Telegram League. DiBiase said he's going to miss the head-to-head battles.

''Mike's coaching record speaks for itself,'' said DiBiase. ''The teams he put on the field were always well-coached and disciplined. I'm sure his competitive nature rubbed off on his players.

''It's too bad this has happened. I don't know the reasons he resigned.''

D'Andrea is also head coach of the Nova Seafood team that won the American Legion state baseball title Saturday and earned a berth in the Northeast Regional Tournament, which begins Thursday in Bristol, Conn.

The controversy over the party is not the first off-the-field adversity faced by D'Andrea in his career. In 2001, he served a four-game suspension at the start of the 2002 baseball season for drinking a beer on the team bus after the team's third consecutive state title. His players were in a restaurant at the time.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

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