Ryan Puntiri, who guided the Hingham girls’ soccer program to three straight MIAA Division 2 state championships from 2014–16, will not have his contract renewed because of allegations from a group of players and their parents that he had verbally abused players.
Hingham athletic director Jim Quatromoni would not acknowledge the reason for Puntiri’s dismissal after 13 seasons, but confirmed the girls’ soccer coach position was posted and open to the public.
The allegations, according to Stewart Lewack, the parent of a three-year player, date to the 2016 season, when Hingham won its third state title. Lewack said Puntiri called the players incompetent during a game.
In a Zoom call Tuesday afternoon with his legal counsel present, Puntiri said the allegation that led to his dismissal started at the team’s end-of-year banquet last November. A parent approached Puntiri, complaining that her daughter had not been named captain for the 2020 season. Players vote for the following season’s captains.
A month ago, after an internal investigation, a letter was sent to the parents of four players who made the allegations, notifying them of Puntiri’s dismissal. Quatromoni and Hingham High principal Richard Swanson were not part of the investigation; per Hingham’s code of conduct, the school’s assistant principals oversee investigations into bullying. According to Puntiri, they found no intent to verbally abuse players and did not make a decision. The ruling and dismissal was made by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Austin.
“Any of these accusations, I vehemently oppose them and I think they’re unfounded,” said Puntiri. “I think they’re fabricated and I think it derives from results that didn’t happen for a student-athlete or their parent or their family.”
The Globe’s Division 2 Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016, Puntiri has won 150 games since he was hired in 2007. He is also an assistant hockey coach at the school, a middle school physical education teacher in Braintree, and the director of Hingham Conditioning, an elite soccer camp with summer and winter training programs. A 1996 Plymouth South graduate, he played Division 1 soccer at Canisius from 1996-2000.
Puntiri said he has received support from the community.
“There’s been a good outcry that oppose what these people are saying and mistake, sometimes, hard coaching for [bullying],” Puntiri said. “I don’t claim to be perfect. I make mistakes. But what I do know is I don’t mistreat student-athletes.”
On Thursday, Puntiri and his attorney will meet with school administrators in a Loudermill hearing, provided under Massachusetts law to afford due process to public employees before a decision is made regarding discipline.
Puntiri said he hopes that he can get his job back, whether it is in 2020 or 2021.
“The short answer would be yes,” he said.