Tom Mullins will not appeal his dismissal as an unpaid volunteer assistant coach for the Poughkeepsie High School boys basketball team, almost a month after the Poughkeepsie City School District told him his services were no longer needed.
District officials relieved Mullins, who spent almost decade on the Pioneers’ bench, of his duties on Dec. 22, four days after he allegedly yelled profanities at a referee and bumped the official while disputing a call during a game at Goshen.
“I’ve enjoyed my time with every player I’ve coached,” Mullins told the Poughkeepsie Journal on Saturday, “and it’s time I went into retirement.”
During a Dec. 18 game between the Pioneers and Gladiators, Mullins objected to a non-call on a rough play in the fourth quarter. Referee Ed Incle alleged Mullins swore at him and intentionally bumped him, and the official assessed the assistant coach two technical fouls, requiring his ejection.
In his incident report, forwarded to the athletic directors from Poughkeepsie and Goshen high schools, the Orange County Basketball Officials Association and Orange BOCES, Incle also alleged “a uniformed Goshen Police Officer escorted Mr. Mullins out of the gym.” Incle later filed a report with village police.
Mullins, however, said “there were no police present,” and he “was never escorted out by police.” He said chaperones from Poughkeepsie and Goshen walked with him out of the gym.
“That’s a significant misrepresentation,” said Mullins, adding “there were (other) opinions provided by the referee. Those opinions have been proven to be misrepresentations.”
When the district announced it had parted ways with Mullins on Dec. 22, Ronel Cook, assistant superintendent of human resources, told the Journal, “We pride ourselves on professionalism at all times. We pride ourselves on sportsmanship at all times.”
Mullins said Saturday he’d wished Poughkeepsie officials would have researched the incident more thoroughly.
“The district, Section 9 and Ulster-Orange BOCES never conducted a review of the report from Incle,” said Mullins, who has coached basketball for 30 years at various levels, including almost a decade on the Pioneers’ sidline.
“After nine years of volunteering my time, for Ronel Cook to make that type of decision without any review just clearly shows volunteers aren’t welcome in Poughkeepsie,” he said, “and the lack of appreciation shows he’s unprofessional and has no integrity of his own.”
In response, Cook said Saturday the district stands by its decision.
“The Poughkeepsie City School District does not endorse, condone or tolerate the type of behavior that was displayed by Mr. Mullins on the night in question,” Cook said. “The Poughkeepsie City School District is a business; we are in the business of preparing our young men and women to become productive citizens. Our students are very impressionable. As an adult, Mr. Mullins should understand that positive situations lead to favorable outcomes, and negative situations lead to unfavorable outcomes.
“We value and respect volunteers who provide a supporting environment to our students. The decision that was made in the Mr. Mullins case is final. We wish Mr. Mullins the very best in his future endeavors.”
In short, Mullins said Incle’s “misrepresentations” clouded the issue at the heart of the Dec. 18 incident: Poughkeepsie players’ safety was in jeopardy because of the physical play that night.
“Those referees lost control of the game. My actions had to stop the game to protect the kids,” Mullins said. “There has been no allegation from any source that there was intention physical contact (with Incle), as defined by Section 9.
“The only thing we had here was an ejection from a basketball game.”
Mullins said he’s decided to step away from the city’s AAU program, the Poughkeepsie Basketball Project.
Over the years, Mullins said he’s been received commendations from the Dutchess County Legislature, the City of Poughkeepsie and the school district for his work with local youth players.
“I’m about the kids,” he said.
Sean T. McMann: firstname.lastname@example.org; 845-437-4826; Twitter: @journalsean