DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The most successful coach in Foxcroft Academy football history apparently won’t be back for a 20th season on the sidelines.
School officials have decided not to rehire Paul Withee as a math teacher for the next academic year, and his position as the school’s head football coach was advertised for the first time in last Saturday’s editions of the Bangor Daily News.
“He wasn’t offered a contract for next year for teaching, and it [coaching] kind of goes hand in hand,” said Foxcroft athletic administrator Tim Smith. “He’s probably going through some [appeal] process that I’m not aware of, but at this point we’ve got to move forward.
“We are accepting applications for the [coaching] job.”
Little has been said publicly about why Withee wasn’t rehired.
Foxcroft’s head of school, Raymond Webb, currently is on a two-week educational exchange to China and unavailable for comment.
“I can’t discuss personnel issues,” added Smith.
Smith did say he already has received inquiries about the football post and hopes to begin the interview process next week with the goal of hiring a coach “as soon as possible.”
Withee declined to comment when originally contacted recently about the matter. A voice message left on his cell phone Tuesday morning was not returned.
Withee did indicate during a September 2006 interview that he planned to remain a teacher and coach at Foxcroft only through the 2009-2010 school year, his daughter Courtney’s senior year at the academy.
That interview was conducted in the aftermath of the sudden death of Withee’s wife LeAnn earlier that year.
“Our goal for the next four seasons is to win the gold ball,” Withee said at the time. “Every season is going to be dedicated to my wife for the next four years, and then when my daughter graduates I’ll probably graduate, too, and pursue other things in my life.”
A Madison native, Withee came to Foxcroft in 1990 after serving for eight years as an assistant coach at Sanford.
He was instrumental in developing the youth football program in the community, and soon after lights were added at Oakes Field in 1993, the high school team began to blossom, leading to a state Class C championship in 1996.
That was the first of three state titles won during Withee’s tenure, with the Ponies also claiming gold in 2003 and 2007.
That matched the number of state crowns won by Foxcroft in school history before Withee’s arrival. The Ponies shared the Class D state title with Bucksport, Dixfield and York in 1963, won the Class C championship in 1967 and won the Class D crown in 1983.
Foxcroft also won seven Eastern Maine Class C championships under Withee’s guidance in 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, and the Ponies won 39 consecutive home games during a span of nearly seven years between October 2001 and September 2008.
Foxcroft finished 6-4 last fall, reaching the LTC semifinals before dropping a 41-22 decision to eventual state champion John Bapst of Bangor.
That marked the first time since 2000 that Foxcroft did not reach the regional championship game.
Withee’s overall regular-season and postseason record as Foxcroft’s football coach is 150-56.
“On the field Paul’s been very successful,” said Smith. “He built the program the right way, and that’s beginning with the youth program.”