PORTLAND — Late next summer or early fall, the time when Mike Bailey was always coaching football, he might be fly-fishing on a Maine lake or just relaxing in front of his television watching college football.

“I’m going to be taking care of Mike Bailey,” he said Monday.

Those interests and others on Bailey’s back burner over the past 31 years became possibilities when he resigned last Friday as Portland High head football coach.

“Coaching football is one of my passions,” he said. “Another passion is fly-fishing.”

Bailey had planned to coach another two or three seasons and then retire about the same time he retired as a science teacher at Portland.

But back in September, Bailey sensed his relationship with Athletic Director Mike McCullum was deteriorating.


“It was a feeling I had,” Bailey said. “He would come into my room and my feeling was ‘What did I do wrong now?’“

Bailey cited philosophical differences with McCullum, particularly the city’s new direction in its athletic booster program, as the reason for his resignation. But it was more “a series of events” than one thing, he said.

In September, the Portland school committee voted to eliminate individual booster groups for both Portland and Deering in favor of one booster group at each school. The policy was in response to Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in athletics, and also to get a more accurate accounting of what was being spent on each sport. The new policy will take effect July 1.

“The school administration has different ways and thoughts,” Bailey said.

“It took me 26 years to develop my boosters. I wanted to keep as much as I could. Even though I disagreed with the policy, I would have gone along with it.

“It was nothing personal with Mike McCullum. I have the utmost respect for him and Portland High. The school has been my life for 31 years.”


Asked to comment on Bailey’s assertion of philosophical differences, McCullum declined. “It’s a personnel matter,” he said.

At the 100th Thanksgiving Day game with Deering, the contest ended on a sour note, with players pushing and shoving.

Deering scored a late touchdown to go up 33-0. Bailey thought Deering was trying to run up the score.

In protest, he elected to kick off to Deering instead of taking the ball, a move he was criticized for.

“I was making a point and I still stand by it, ” he said. “No one was truly innocent that day.”

Bailey said coaches in Portland have a lot to deal with, such as finding practice fields. The Bulldogs were able to hold their practices at Fitzpatrick Stadium, but in past years they’ve had to cross Deering Avenue to practice on Quinn Field in Deering Oaks.


Also, athletes in the city can attend either Portland or Deering, which adds to the challenge of building a winning program.

After several discussions with McCullum, Bailey said he made his decision to resign.

He met with his team Friday.

“It was very emotional. I wanted them to hear it from me first and not through the grapevine,” he said.

“It’s absolutely tough leaving. I’ve built up great relations with the kids. It’s time to move on. I have no ill feelings towards anyone. I want to leave on a positive note. I’ve had a great career.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH


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