Oxford Hills football coach resigns over nude Facebook photo

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OXFORD — Oxford Hills high school varsity football coach Paul Withee said Monday he was embarrassed and humiliated by a mistake he said has probably cost him his career.

Withee resigned Monday morning after school officials received a complaint from a parent that he posted a nude picture of himself on Facebook.

“I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed, I’m humiliated,” Withee said Monday. He said the picture was on the social media page for no more than a half-hour when he discovered what had happened and tried to correct it.

“I’ve never done anything like this before and I never will again,” he said.

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“You have to be careful with what you do with social media. You can get yourself into a lot of trouble and something you love can be taken away from you just like this,” he said.

School Superintendent Rick Colpitts said he met with Withee on Monday morning and accepted his resignation.

“He has chosen to resign for personal reasons. He is no longer employed with us,” Colpitts said.

Withee also taught mathematics and science at Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris. A substitute has taken over his classes.

Colpitts confirmed reports that Withee posted a nude picture of himself on his Facebook page last week. It was intended to be seen by a personal friend but instead was inadvertently posted publicly, he said.

A parent in the district discovered the picture and notified school officials on Feb. 7. Withee was immediately placed on paid leave, which is the normal procedure, while the district began an investigation.

Withee, who coached three championship teams during his 19 years as football coach at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, was named varsity football coach at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris in March 2011.

Colpitts said as far as he is aware, only the parent saw the picture, which Withee immediately took down as soon as he discovered the mistake.

Under school district policy, teachers are allowed to “friend” students on Facebook, but as far as he could tell, Colpitts said Withee had no Oxford Hills School District students as “friends” on his page.

He said teachers are encouraged to develop appropriate teacher-student relationships with their students using social media like Facebook for school-related purposes.

Withee, of Norway, said his Facebook page was personal and he has no students as “friends” on it.

The school has three policies in place relating to the use of the Internet and each new hire is thoroughly versed in what they can and cannot do in regards to the Internet and their academic position.

Colpitts said principals at the middle and high school were expected to address the situation with their staff Monday.

Colpitts said Withee did not do anything illegal. He simply made a mistake.

“There was never any malicious intent. It (the picture) was never intended for the public. He tried to correct it. I feel badly for him. I wish him well,” Colpitts said.

At least one parent, on the other hand, disagreed with classifying the action as a mistake. The woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she and her family were extremely disappointed in Withee’s actions.

The woman said her son played football for Withee and looked up to the coach. She said Withee’s actions last week completely changed her perspective of him as a coach and mentor and left her feeling let down as a parent.

Staff writer Andie Hannon contributed to this story.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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