May 21, 2018
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Southern Aroostook coach Murray Putnam cancels planned meeting with school board

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Longtime baseball coach Murray Putnam shouts out drills to his players during an early morning practice at Southern Aroostook High School in Dyer Brook in 2008. Putnam has been placed on administrative leave by school officials.
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

DYER BROOK, Maine — A scheduled meeting between the RSU 50 school board and a Southern Aroostook baseball coach and athletic director who was placed on paid leave on May 15 was scrapped at the last minute Monday evening, after one of the parties opted out of the session.

Murray Putnam, who was supposed to attend the meeting with his legal counsel, canceled the session through a tersely worded letter read at the meeting.

Putnam said in the letter that he was content to stay on leave through June 30, which is when his contract ends.

He thanked those who have supported him over the past month, but did not say if he would continue talks with the board or what his next steps will be after his contract runs out.

When contacted after the meeting, Putnam declined any further comment.

“The letter speaks for itself,” he said.

While Interim Superintendent John A. Doe has not indicated why Putnam was placed on leave, speakers at a school board meeting last Monday made references to inappropriate pictures that were posted online after the annual preseason spring baseball trip to Boston. Speakers and some community members indicated that they believed the photos may have included possible instances of hazing.

As head coach, Putnam has oversight responsibilities for the team. Players involved in the incident reportedly have been disciplined.

Doe said last week that he could not comment on remarks about hazing, but said that “the district has all of the appropriate policies in place” related to what was discussed at the meeting.

During last week’s meeting, more than 60 people jammed the cafeteria at Katahdin Elementary School. A number of people spoke in support of the coach.

Putnam has been coaching for 44 years. He has served as the school’s athletic director for the last 39 years.

Doe said on Monday evening that he could not comment any further on Putnam’s actions.

RSU 50 serves the communities of Crystal, Dyer Brook, Island Falls, Stacyville, Patten, Merrill, Oakfield and Smyrna.

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