A longtime Oregon prep basketball and baseball coach has been placed on administrative leave following reports that he allegedly drank alcohol before one of his basketball games.
As reported by Oregon CBS affiliate KTVL, the South Medford Schools basketball coach has been suspended from both his role as a coach and campus monitor. Ray Smith, the coach and diligent member of the South Medford community, was placed on leave soon while the district investigates the charges against him.
“We do have an active internal investigation going on right now and he has been placed on leave,” Natalie Hurd, communications specialist for the Medford School District, told KTVL. “I can’t go into details because it’s a personnel matter because there’s confidentiality involved. I can say at the Medford School District the safety of our students is our top priority.”
The investigation into Smith comes a day after he was ejected in the third inning of a rivalry game against North Medford. According to KTVL, Smith vociferously argued a call at third base in that third inning, leading to an ejection from the umpire. His actions were apparently enough to draw suspicion, which led to the ongoing investigation and his changed employment status.
Smith admitted he had enjoyed more than multiple alcoholic beverages before Tuesday’s game in an interview with the Mail Tribune.
“I messed up big time,” said Smith. “I had some drinks before the game … I don’t know why. I’m just absolutely so embarrassed, all that hard work just right down the tubes.
“It’s just a very humbling, humiliating thing,” he added. “I just can’t believe myself. I’m just so disappointed, I let a lot of people down.”
The timing is far less than optimal for South Medford. The program is currently ranked No. 1 in Oregon’s Class 6A entering a final regular season series this weekend. As there’s currently no clear direction about when Smith might return, the program is fairly rudderless on the brink of a postseason in which much will be expected.
South Medford is 19-3 following Tuesday’s 8-1 victory against North Medford. Smith hopes that they can rally for the playoffs and put in a run to a state title, even if it’s without him.
“I just don’t know,” Smith told the Mail Tribune. “I have a drinking problem, but it was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life and I’m going to pay a severe price for it.
“Don’t worry about me, though. Worry about these kids and the community we have here in our program. That’s who I’m more worried about. I can own up to it myself, but the people I let down … that’s for me the hardest part. I’ve just got to fix this.”