V-ball coach quits R.I. job for taking free ride

Craig Letourneau, Emerson’s women’s volleyball coach, resigned as the director of Cumberland, R.I.’s Recreation Department after a local television reporter revealed he had been using a town-owned vehicle to commute to volleyball games and practices in Boston.

The coach had been employed part-time for four years by the town and was issued the car by its mayor in January. The coach, who lives in Danielson, R.I., has been ordered by Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee to repay $200, which is about half the gas money he billed to the town in September and October, The Journal reported on Nov. 28.

Letourneau did not respond to repeated attempts for comment, but told The Journal he apologized to the mayor.

“What I did was bad judgment,” he told the Providence newspaper. “I was using the car to drive to Boston because my car was dead.”

Emerson Athletic Director Kristin Parnell said the first-year coach’s role with the team will not be affected because his use of the car did not violate Emerson rules.

“My position is he did nothing wrong in his position here,” said Parnell, who is in her first year as athletic director. “Since he’s been here he’s done nothing that would cause us to question his ethical integrity. He’s already done a lot of recruiting for us.”

Parnell also said she had no other concerns about Letourneau’s ability to coach the team because she was told his resignation would be effective as of Jan. 1. The volleyball season had ended before the coach resigned in Cumberland.

Letourneau coached the women’s volleyball team at Rhode Island College before being hired by Emerson as its full-time coach on Aug. 20. Parnell said the late notice forced him into a scheduling crunch.

“He got thrown into a tough position here,” she said. “He inherited the schedule, he inherited the team.”

The Cumberland mayor told The Journal he believed Letourneau would be able to handle both jobs, and that it was not uncommon for employees of small towns to hold other jobs.

He praised the coach’s performance as recreation director, but criticized his discretion.

“Perhaps he just felt it was convenient, to go from work in town and Emerson,” McKee said. “There is a problem with that. That sort of behavior is not acceptable.”