FRAMINGHAM – Jason Smith announced his resignation to the Framingham Youth Football and Cheerleading Board this morning, November 20.
” I resign to allow the program to focus on what really matters, the health and well being of our youth and the program,” said Smith in an email to families today.
“I have had the pleasure of volunteering for Framingham Youth Football and Cheer for twenty years as a coach, board member, and for the past three years, as President. As you know, we are a diverse, youth-focused all-volunteer program, with hundreds of families providing a safe nurturing environment to literally thousands of kids over this time period,” wrote Smith.
“There is not and never has been any room for any form of hate. None. Our volunteers undergo background checks, and receive extensive safety training as coaches. As a large all-volunteer organization it is clear that we need more training and oversight for everyone,” wrote Smith in his email to families.
Smith wrote that on “October 25, 2018, without warning, I received a letter of resignation from fifth grade assistant coach Robert Assarian stating that he was resigning for “personal” reasons. I reached out and asked him to meet with me to discuss why he decided to resign.”
Smith wrote to families that on “October 26, 2018 he then sent me via email a single screenshot of an inappropriate text exchange between Assarian and some other coaches with the words “ghetto” and “shoot MPR’s”. I immediately requested that Assarian meet with the Board but he totally ignored these requests and all other attempts I made to engage with him. I also immediately followed up with the head coach on the text exchange and took disciplinary action on the inappropriate texts. As I look back today and see that kids and parents are hurt and upset by what we now know, I realize I should have taken more actions to investigate the single screenshot that was forwarded to me and for that I apologize. As a volunteer for the league I would never want any child or parent to feel hurt and only want what’s best for these kids. Again, I apologize.”
Smith said that “none of the current chain of text exchanges nor the outrageous issues which have been uncovered were apparent from this single screenshot. Accordingly, I felt that I had addressed the issue. Assarian was no longer a coach and I had taken disciplinary action against the head coach.”
In his email to families in FYFC Smith said it “was not until a few days ago, November 5, 2019, that I read for the first time a series of 2018 texts between Assarian and other coaches. LET ME BE CLEAR. It was not until November 5, 2019, that I for the first time became aware that there were a series of disgusting and disparaging texts among some of our leagues coaches. I took immediate action. I immediately convened a meeting of the Executive Committee and, upon verifying their authenticity, terminated each of these coaches and removed two board members.”
“Three days later on November 8, 2019, Assarian wrote to apologize for his “terrible racial statements” in 2018. He acknowledged that “I decided to not get back in touch with Jason” despite multiple requests to meet with me and that Jason and the board had never been sent any other copies of any other texted messages between himself and the coaches. Assarian continued, “I wish I had followed up with Jason as this all may have been avoided. I also did not reach out to any other board members to address anything shared in the past.” I did NOT have any prior knowledge of any other of the existence or content of the texts that have come to light within the last few weeks,” Smith told families this morning.
“This exchange amongst these coaches was disgusting and I have no idea why these adults acted this way. It makes it clear that there needs to be tighter league rules and more board protocols, conduct more training for coaches, and more frequent evaluations to ensure that this type of behavior does not occur ever again. And lastly, that we receive more complete, timely information in the future to ensure that our kids, parents and coaches are all treated with respect,” said Smith to families.
“Our program remains strong, because we are a family committed to the development of the youth of our community,” wrote Smith. “We value, respect and embrace our differences, constantly learning from each other. These repugnant acts have strengthened our commitment to each other, reaffirmed our shared values and goals, and given us an opportunity to grow together.”
“It is with this knowledge and personal lament that I resign to allow the program to focus on what really matters, the health and well being of our youth and the program,” concluded the letter from Smith.