Keith Byars out as Boca Raton football coach
Thursday, September 22, 2011
by Jeff Greer
After three days of speculation, it's official: Keith Byars is no longer football coach at Boca Raton.
According to a statement released by Nat Harrington, spokesman for Palm Beach County schools, Boca Raton High on Thursday named Lewis Burnham coach of its football team. The statement did not name Byars, the former Dolphins running back who allegedly pushed his team's starting quarterback during a game against Jupiter last Friday and faced dismissal after pressure from parents.
Byars met with his players and assistant coaches after school Thursday to inform them of the departure, sources close to the situation said.
Byars' dismissal had been rumored since his meeting with Boca Raton Principal Geoff McKee on Tuesday evening, but the school wanted to handle the situation delicately because of concerns about tensions involving Byars' son and his teammates. Keith Byars II is the Bobcats' leading rusher this season.
Byars and the school declined comment Thursday.
The incident isn't without local precedent. Benjamin football coach Ron Ream was forced to resign after he allegedly put his hands on a player during a 2009 practice. Ream was reinstated days later amid overwhelming support from the community.
There did not appear to be as much support for Byars on community message boards as word spread this week of his pending dismissal.
Burnham, who was Byars' offensive line coach and is the interim athletic director at Boca, was the obvious choice to replace Byars for the remainder of the season.
Boca Raton does not play this week. Its next game is Sept. 30 at Glades Central.
Because Byars, 47, is a non-salaried employee, his departure does not require school board approval.
Byars coached Boca for two-plus seasons. He was 14-11 during his tenure, including a trip to the regional semifinals in his first season as coach. The team struggled in 2010, finishing 4-6 and missing the playoffs after two consecutive post-season berths. Boca Raton is off to a 1-2 start to this season.
Byars replaced Eddie Giersbrook, who was forced out in 2009 amid a Florida High School Athletic Association investigation into his program for illegal recruiting practices. Boca Raton was placed on two years' probation, fined $5,000 and vacated its 2008 wins as a result of the FHSAA investigation,
Byars was an All-America at Ohio State before playing 13 years in the NFL. He played for the Eagles (1986-92), Dolphins (1993-96), Patriots (1996-97) and Jets (1998) and was named to the Pro Bowl in 1993 while with the Dolphins.