In the days following reports last week of an investigation into long-time Plymouth North baseball coach Dwayne Follette, and an anonymous letter alleging his presence at a private party earlier this summer where underage drinking occurred, the initial outpour of support from town was overwhelming.
Plymouth Police looked into the situation, but late last week suspended their investigation due to lack of evidence. Plymouth townsfolk were prepared to rally around the beloved figure, with a former player’s mother organizing a Friday night rally at the high school that nearly 1,000 were said to be prepared to attend.
But before things could get out of hand, school officials took control. Both parties reached an agreement on Friday, following the school district’s own internal investigation, and last night during a School Committee meeting he apologized to the town, the school, North principal Kathleen McSweeney and Superintendent Gary Maestas.
As part of the agreement, Follette resigned from his post as head football coach, which he took over shortly before the 2010 season, and the head JV basketball coach position he slid into midway through the 11-12 season. Follette will remain the school’s baseball coach, a position he’s held for 18 years and for which he has produced multiple state champions, draft picks and Cape Cod League veterans.
Also as part of the agreement, Follette will be assisting with the local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), speaking to both kids and adults.
“The support was amazing, I couldn’t believe the overwhelming support,” Follette said. “It would’ve turned into really bad publicity for the school and town, and it was starting to get out of hand. I was willing to take this all the way end, with the community behind me, but it was really starting to affect my family.
“When I say family – my kids were all behind me, but it was starting to affect my wife in a negative way. My wife works the front office at the high school, and she was getting bombarded with this stuff. If your wife cries in front of you or gets hurt, there’s nothing worse.
“I’ve been coaching for 28 years, 18 as head baseball coach, and I’ve done some amazing things on the field. Now it’s time to do some amazing stuff off the field. That’s what made this resolution possible. Bottom line is, this resolution was the best thing for the community and for my family.”
Follette repeatedly expressed gratitude towards Maestas for the agreement. He also admitted fault for his presence at the party in question, a “breakup barbecue” held earlier this summer.
“I made a mistake. I didn’t do anything illegal, but I made a mistake,” he said. “This resolution is what’s best for the community. I regret being there, and that’s what led to all of this. I’m a high school baseball coach, and look at what this turned into.”
Follette’s resignation from the football program comes at an inconvenience, what with the first MIAA-sanctioned football practices less than two weeks away. A successor won’t be revealed until next Wednesday, but Follette said his entire staff from last season returns, which possibly suggests this could be an internal promotion.
“It’s a good person,” Follette said. “I can tell you one thing – it’s a very good person, a respectable coach that’s not gonna skip a beat. All I can say is once they announce it, I am in total support.”