The coach of the Westminster High varsity girls basketball team resigned yesterday afternoon, 16 days after nine of his players were suspended for the rest of the season for allegedly drinking alcohol or being in the presence of underage drinking at an off-campus party.
Dick Ebersole, 56, who had led the Owls for 13 seasons during two separate stints as head coach, said he resigned to keep lingering inquiries over the players' suspensions from detracting from the rest of the season.
"I was trying to coach, and it had gotten to be that responding to questions surrounding those events had become a distraction to me. And I didn't want it to become a distraction to the kids currently on the team," he said in an interview last night.
Ebersole's resignation came just hours before the Owls' matchup with South Carroll High and with only three other games remaining on the team's regular-season schedule.
His departure also comes as parents of girls suspended from the team have registered complaints with school officials about the disciplinary action. At least one parent also has complained about Ebersole's handling of the situation.
Donna Chicuto, whose daughter, a senior, was one of the girls suspended, said the coach could have alerted parents that there might be alcohol at a sleepover party involving several players but did not.
"I was upset with him because I felt if I had known something like this would happen, I would have diverted my daughter's activities for the evening as many parents do when they hear about something like this," said Chicuto, who detailed her complaints in a letter to school officials. "Today, justice does seem to have been served with his resignation, and now these nine girls can go forward with their lives."
But Ebersole said last night that he tried to keep the girls from getting into trouble.
"I had heard a rumor, as you hear as a coach and educator, that there may be alcohol [at the party] and I was surprised to hear that," he said. He said he warned a team member who he had heard was planning to attend of the consequences of going to a party where there might be alcohol.