BYFIELD — Two months after introducing Sean McInnis as the new Triton Regional High athletic director, Superintendent Christopher Farmer confirmed yesterday he has opened a search for McInnis’ replacement.
McInnis, who took over the position July 1, recently gave notice of his resignation to Farmer due to “some family circumstances entirely out of his control,” according to Farmer. By rule of his contract, McInnis may remain in the athletic director position for 90 days.
“Unfortunately, some family circumstances entirely out of his control, which I fully understand and respect, meant that he had to give his notice,” Farmer said. “Sean McInnis is currently in the post. His last day will be subject to review. He’s required to give 90 days notice by contract. His circumstances are such that we’ll keep the last day under review.”
McInnis did not respond yesterday to a call from The Daily News.
Upon announcing McInnis’ hire June 11, Farmer stressed the importance of creating a district-wide position for a full-time athletic director. The position was previously held on a part-time basis for four years by Donna Andersen, who received a stipend for serving as athletic director in addition to collecting a salary for her full-time position as a physical education teacher and seasonal stipend for being the varsity field hockey coach.
At the time of McInnis’ hire, Farmer stressed the importance of hiring an athletic director who could provide more support to coaches and oversee the proposed $2.5 million renovation project on the high school football stadium, which was built in 1971.
McInnis, a resident of Norfolk, previously served as the director of Budgeting and Financial Reporting at UMass Boston for seven years. He has also served as a varsity basketball coach at various schools over the last 20 years, including Wakefield High, Weston High and King Philip Regional High.
As of the time of his hire, McInnis had yet to make plans to relocate from Norfolk, a Massachusetts town 63.5 miles from Byfield. Farmer said the search for a new athletic director may extend into the fall sports season.
“I’m enormously disappointed,” Farmer said. “Every time I’ve come across (McInnis) as he’s started his work here, I’ve been enormously impressed with his commitment and professionalism. Everybody who has had dealings with him to date has felt the same way.”
Triton’s next athletic director will serve as the sixth person to fill that role in the last eight years. The turnover at the top of the athletic department has affected the product on the athletic playing surfaces.
In the last eight years, the school’s athletic programs have struggled as a whole, although there have been occasional examples of success. The school’s wrestling and girls track programs have collected state championships since 2009. Perhaps it is no coincidence that wrestling coach Shawn McElligott and girls track coach Joe Colbert remain among the longest-tenured coaches at Triton. Other programs, such as girls and boys soccer, field hockey, football and girls basketball have consistently finished among the bottom teams in the Cape Ann League.
The ever-changing philosophy among Triton athletic directors has put the administration in some unusual predicaments. In four seasons from 2009 to 2012, the head football coach changed three times. In 2007, the Triton athletic director at the time, Dave Dempsey, chose not to rehire hockey coach Drew Wile after the coach had a difference of opinion with a parent of a player. For the next three seasons, the Triton hockey program steadily declined, concluding with a 2-17-1 record in 2009-10. After Andersen took over as athletic director, she rehired Wile, and the Vikings have made the state tournament — and won one Cape Ann League championship — in the three years since.
Farmer would not say whether having Andersen return as athletic director is a possibility.
“It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on personnel or an individual,” Farmer said. “We will be set up for the opening of the fall sports season. Sean McInnis’ work will continue into September. The question then is — How will we move on from there? It depends on who interviews, who impresses and when he or she is available. Clearly, if it’s necessary, we’ll make interim arrangements.”