Randall let go at Ely

Posted on 20 June 2013 by LeslieM

Pages 09-16By Gary Curreri

Melvin Randall admits he was “caught a little off guard” when he was told he was no longer going to be the Blanche Ely’s boys’ basketball coach after leading the team to back-to-back Class 7A state titles.

Randall said he was informed on June 7 that his 13 years at the school that yielded three state titles was over. Randall, who has been a math teacher at the Pompano Beach school for the past 26 years, has compiled a 456-136 record and five state titles between Deerfield Beach and Blanche Ely high schools.

“This has been going on for the last two years and it basically boils down to something personal,” said Randall, who was informed in a 10:30 a.m. meeting with Blanche Ely assistant principal Malcolm Spence (Blanche Ely administrator over sports) and assistant principal Antonio Womack. “There was no explanation, no nothing. I was kind of shocked. I am not bitter. There have been many placed in my position who have said ‘forget it’ and have just walked away. I am not going to walk away.”

“I am still teaching (math) there, but with the coaching it’s pending,” Randall continued. “I may go into the private sector. You have to have a better excuse than we are moving in a different direction. Which direction is that? Are you going down? I am not being cocky, but that is the only direction I can think of. We only lost five games the past two years.”

Randall finished the 2012- 13 season at Ely by winning his second consecutive Class 7A state championship and earning its second consecutive national ranking.

Randall, 50, of Ft. Lauderdale, has expressed his frustration with the school’s administration by not being allowed to keep two of his long-time assistant coaches (Morris Grooms and Reginald McNair, both former players of his,) from the 2011-12 season and also is upset at how he was treated by Ely principal Karlton Johnson after leading the team to a state championship in 2012 when he had to apply for his position twice.

“Whatever the situation was, it didn’t warrant dismissal,” said Randall, the only coach in Broward to lead two different teams to national rankings – Deerfield Beach in 1999 and Blanche Ely the past two seasons. “It could have warranted suspensions maybe, instead of the harshest thing (firing).”

I am very proud of what I have done at Ely as the boys head basketball coach,” Randall said. “And really doing it the hard way and being successful and running into a situation that I have been in a few years and being successful.”

“My job is to educate 9th grade students and above and also, when I am in the gym, I am trying to do the same thing through that crazy sport of basketball,” Randall said. “It is not just bouncing a basketball and getting Ws and Ls. It is about mentoring these kids and giving them lifelong skills.”

Randall said he didn’t want his name to be tarnished as he moved past the situation.

“I am going to be heard because they are not going to tarnish my name,” Randall said. “I don’t want people to say maybe he did something drastic because he won two state titles, and he must have done something (wrong). And to be put in a spot to coach at the next level, and that is what athletic directors would be thinking as well. It is going to be pretty interesting.”

Efforts to reach school officials were unsuccessful.

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