The lewd photo was viewable by the general public and was recognized by a parent of a player on his football team, leading to the coach’s self-imposed departure.
As reported by the Bangor Daily News, Associated Press and a handful of other Maine media outlets, South Paris (Me.) Oxford Hills Comprehensive High football coach Paul Withee tendered his resignation as both a football coach and math and science teacher in the Oxford Hills School District on Monday, days after he inadvertently sparked a major scandal by accidentally posting a completely nude photo of himself on his publicly viewable Facebook page.
Withee allegedly claims the racy photos were only intended for his girlfriend, but the coach — who has led Oxford Hills’ program since the 2009-10 school year — posted them to his general Facebook profile instead.
While Withee has refused public comment on the incident, Oxford Hills Superintendent Rick Colpitts told Portland ABC affiliate WMTW that the photo was only online for approximately 10 minutes before it was removed. Despite that brief air time, Withee’s rather bare photo was seen by a football parent, who immediately reported the incident. It has not been divulged whether Withee removed the photo of his own accord or whether he was told that the shot could be seen by his entire Facebook network and then took it down.
Either way, the brief nude incident raised flags for the Oxford Hills School District because of a general policy stance that allows for teachers to be friends with students on Facebook. That means that students could have possibly seen Withee’s nude photo in their own timeline, even if there is no indication that any did.
That concern of exposure to Oxford Hills students motivated the school district to open its own investigation into the incident, though WMTW reported that investigation had since been closed because of Withee’s resignation.
While there are any number of common sense lessons that Withee’s former students can take from their teacher and coach’s fall (never post naked photos of yourself anywhere on the internet chief among them), the need for strong privacy settings on social media sites is certainly likely to sink in at this point. If that does, perhaps Withee’s departure won’t be for naught, even if it has brought on one of the strangest justifications for a coach’s departure in recent memory.