Saying the two sides have come to “an understanding,” Region 4 school district has rescinded its request for Valley Regional/Old Lyme coach Tim King’s resignation, superintendent Brian J. White announced in a joint statement with King Monday night.
King, a physical education teacher and Valley’s football coach since 1997, had been asked by White to resign or face termination on Friday for his alleged role in the independent football team comprised of Valley Regional students.
The standoff ended after a tense few days, which included a rally in support of King held Sunday and an online petition that solicited nearly 3,000 signatures. Representatives from both sides met Monday evening before Region 4 released the joint statement just before 7 p.m.
“Through discussion, we have come to an understanding about the extent of the coach’s involvement with the independent team of Region 4 football players,” the statement read. “Coach King does understand that, as a role model, the concerns about community perception regarding his involvement with this team.
“We both understand and accept that as educators and professionals we have a special responsibility to our students, staff and community during a pandemic and that we must place safety above all else. It is in that spirit, that the request for Coach King to resign from the position of head football coach has been rescinded.”
Casey Metz, a parent of a Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team captain who maintained that she — not King — was the independent football team’s organizer, said she was relieved with the decision and that other planned rallies for this week would be canceled.
“I’m happy to see that this injustice has been rectified and that Coach King’s reputation is still intact,” she said via text message. “We were hopeful this would be the outcome.”
The statement went on to say the school district and King would “collaborate to provide the ongoing leadership necessary to support our students, staff and communities and the importance of the values of respect, kindness and concern for each other.”
When the state’s Department of Health recommended against the playing of 11 vs. 11 football as a “high risk” sport and the CIAC canceled the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of independent football teams were formed to fill the void.
Metz said she organized an independent team of Valley and Old Lyme players, but that both schools prohibited the use of their equipment and fields. Valley Regional also prohibited its coaches from participating, she said. Lyme/Old Lyme High School, however, allowed one of its VROL coaches, Phil Cohen, to work with the team.
When 17 Valley Regional students with connections to the independent team were quarantined earlier this month due to potential exposure to the virus by a parent volunteer, the Region 4 Board of Education said it would look into the issue of coaches potentially being involved and “putting our community at risk” during a Nov. 5 virtual meeting.
King had also publicly come out against the decision to cancel football this fall in an article in The Day of New London and appeared to insinuate he was involved in the formation of the independent team.
But parents said King was never involved aside from watching a few practices and attending the independent team’s one game on Oct. 24.
In response to a text message late Monday, King said he was “looking forward to moving on.”