Rob Duron resigned as the Santa Monica High baseball coach Thursday; two days after the Vikings were eliminated from the CIF Division 3 playoffs by Los Altos High, 3-1.
There were strong indications in recent weeks Duron would resign following a season of turmoil in which he received little support from the administration. But the manner in which it happened was surprising.
There was no face to face meeting between Duron and athletic director Norm Lacy.
“He wasn’t in his office so I left a note and turned in my keys,” said Duron.
Then, in a voice mail on my machine he said: “Thanks for all your coverage. It was good for the kids.”
Duron coached the team for two seasons and plans to remain at Samohi as a teacher, a position he has held for more than 20 years.
The average span of a Samohi baseball coach since 1987 has been three years and there is a perception in the local baseball community that the sport has a low priority at the school.
Kevin Brockway, who preceded Duron, lasted three years before becoming an assistant baseball coach at West Los Angeles College.
Brockway, who attended Tuesday’s game, is familiar with many of Duron’s complaints, which include the necessity of sharing the field with other sports. Samohi baseball coaches have been at a disadvantage as league rivals have greater use of their facilities. At Samohi, the soccer team practices on the baseball field and at other times baseball practice is curtailed because discus throwers take over the outfield.
In addition, portable toilets just outside the ballpark entrance were removed this season. Numerous fans asked me where the toilets were. The answer was they’d have to make a long walk to the gym.
Duron has been outspoken about the problems. Brockway took the opposite approach, keeping quiet and dealing as best as he could with matters. But he soon began searching for other employment even though one of his Samohi teams reached a CIF championship game at Dodger Stadium.
Duron and Lacy were long-time friends, but their relationship cooled throughout a season in which parents frequently complained about Duron — the complaints ranging from lack of playing time for their youngsters to the coach’s idea of players taking batting practice from pitching machines.
“We had four of the leading hitters in the Ocean League,” said Duron. “Would I stick with something that wasn’t working? That would be foolish.”
Although the Vikings won four elimination games prior to Tuesday’s loss and 18 of 33 overall, Duron felt he couldn’t overcome the lack of administration support following a mid-season incident.
Dan Ramos, Samohi’s assistant softball coach, wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Monica Daily Press criticizing Duron, including the passage:”they should of got rid of this guy a long time ago.”
Ramos had applied for the coaching job when Brockway was chosen.
The administration’s failure to take any action against a fellow member of the school’s coaching staff who wrote such a scathing letter was viewed by Duron and many other area coaches as a total lack of support.
There is no indication of who the new coach will be, but Brockway has told friends he has no interest in returning.