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Gene Allen ousted as ACHS basketball coach

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The ouster of Atlantic City High School’s successful basketball coach has ignited the community and left questions for the program. The renewal for Coach Gene Allen, who has led the team to three state titles in his 15 years, got backing from only one board member Tuesday night. A special Board of Education meeting was in the works for next week, but has now been canceled. Another could be held in the future, according to a text obtained by BreakingAC. The regular board meeting is still set for Dec. 11, when many members of the community have indicated they will come to show their support for Allen, and anger over the decision not to renew him. The season was already unofficially underway, with preparations and tryouts starting this week. “We don’t have a backup plan,” said board member John Devlin, who cast the sole vote for Allen. “We get rid of him and then we figure things out later. That’s the problem in Atlantic City.” The issue seems to come down to text messages between Allen and at least one player that concerned the basketball team’s banquet. Allen had called off the banquet, saying that not enough funds were raised and apparently upset at the team’s championship loss. Ray Bethea Sr. has been coming to every board meeting with signs that show the text message and railing against the coach, several who have been in attendance told BreakingAC.

MORE: Father at center of ACHS Coach Allen ouster speaks out

Father at center of ACHS Coach Allen ouster speaks out - BreakingAC

A complaint over insulting text messages and disrespectful treatment to players sparked an investigation that led to the ouster Atlantic City High School’s much-heralded basketball coach. Coach Gene Allen got just one vote for renewal at last week’s Board of Education meeting. The decision led to community uproar and lots of questions... Read more

Bethea’s son, Ray Jr., played for Allen and received a full ride to Howard University to play basketball there. An investigation into the allegations was supposed to be done, but the outcome of that is not clear. While Devlin said it was handled the right way, board member Shay Steele said the board had not been given enough information and things were still in question when it appeared on Tuesday night’s agenda. “Six months where we as board members didn’t get any resolution until last night,” Steele said, adding that it was a tough decision. Elijah Langford, whose renewal as assistant coach was on the agenda, will now serve as interim head coach. But he made clear in a public Facebook post on Wednesday that he fully supports Allen, and has no interest in the head coach position. “I don't agree with the board's decision AT ALL,” he wrote. “There was no due process.” Allen was not at the meeting and was not given the opportunity to defend himself or present his side of the issue. “They went about the whole situation completely wrong,” said resident Demond Tally, who has coached football players who also played for Allen. Tally said he’s not a fan of Allen, and has had issues with things he’s said, but has called for a boycott of the team’s games. “As far as boycotting, I know I would never attend another Atlantic City High School basketball game,” he said. “Bring him back and handle it the right way.” “This cannot be about not having a banquet,” said Davine Johnson-Wade, who said Allen showed concern for her education and helped make him “an independent, self-sufficient man.” In fact, there did wind up being a banquet, Devlin said. “Coach Allen paid for it out of his own pocket,” he added. “Nobody knows that.” "This guy was more than a coach," said Matt Ulmer, who has covered many of the games. "He was a mentor to underprivileged youth in an urban community."

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Sunday, June 16, 2024
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