In a stunning decision that blindsided him, Ron Ullery was informed this week that he no longer would be the Centerville High School head football coach.
Ullery said he was told by athletic director Ron Dement on Monday that the program was “headed in a different direction.”
“I had no intention of giving up coaching at this time, whatsoever,” Ullery said Tuesday.
Ullery recently completed his second season as head coach following his retirement from the Centerville school district. All coaches who aren’t full-time employees of the school district have one-year supplemental contracts that are annually posted after each season.
Dement said the position would be posted internally this week and reposted for outside interest the following week. The plan is to have a new head coach in place “shortly after the first of the year,” he said.
“Ultimately, it’s about timing and trying to have our head coach here in the building, the high school,” Dement said. “Those were the main, contributing factors. Coach Ullery was there when he could be and went out of his way to be there. We just want to move in that direction.”
It was an awkward parting that surprised Elks players and the coaching staff. Centerville had its banquet Sunday at the high school. Dement did not attend.
Centerville was 8-3 this past season and 3-2 in the Greater Western Ohio Conference Central Division. The Elks were one of five GWOC teams to make the playoffs and lost a first-round Division I contest to Dublin Coffman, 42-14.
Dement was adamant that the season record did not play a role in the decision to part with Ullery. Dement also said the midseason death of assistant Elks coach Francois Hagenimana in a horrific auto accident that claimed the life of a second driver also wasn’t a factor.
“No; this had nothing to do with (win/loss) numbers,” Dement said. “It’s just about timing and finding the best fit for the program right now.”
Ullery was promoted to succeed Bob Gregg as the Elks’ head coach in 2000. In 14 seasons Ullery compiled a 107-45 record. Eight of his teams advanced to the D-I postseason. He had just one losing record, his second.
“I only wanted to do two things when I became a head coach,” he said. “I hoped to continue all the tradition that Bob had brought to the program and I hoped to be able to enhance it a little bit. I’ve had 37 great years here. I have no regrets.”
A Brookville native, Ullery, 59, began his coaching career at Centerville in 1977. He also was the school’s AD.
He said it was too early to commit to another coaching position. By Tuesday afternoon he had received many offers from area programs as word of his coaching demise at Centerville had spread.
However, he insisted that he wasn’t finished coaching. “That’s obviously in other people’s hands and not mine,” he reflected. “You don’t always get what you want.”
Dement said a leadership team made up of school administration made the decision to part with Ullery.
“The bottom line is we wanted to go in a different direction,” Dement said. “That’s no indictment of Ron. We’re looking at Ron’s not going to coach here forever. We’re looking at five-10 years down the road, where do we want to be as a program?
“There’s never going to be a perfect time to make a coaching change when you’ve got someone like Ron here who’s been here for so long and done a tremendous job.”
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