PREP BASEBALL: Smith will not return to South Medford

    MT fileSouth Medford baseball coach Ray Smith, center, shown before a game against Roseburg on April 9, will not return to the team next season.

    South Medford High School baseball coach Ray Smith confirmed Saturday that he will not be returning to the school as result of an investigation by the Medford School District’s human resources department.

    The investigation stemmed from a May 8 incident in which the ninth-year head coach admitted consuming alcohol prior to a game against North Medford at Harry & David Field.

    Telephone messages left for school district officials for comment were not immediately returned as of Saturday afternoon.

    Smith was put on an administrative leave of absence from his duties as campus monitor and baseball coach May 9 by the school district. He expressed considerable regret for his actions immediately after the incident, noting he had no answer for his actions and was very contrite in taking full responsibility.

    Smith had guided South Medford to a Southwest Conference championship and No. 1 seeding in the Class 6A state power rankings at the time of his administrative leave.

    The Panthers went on to complete an undefeated run in the SWC under interim head coach Scott Carle with a pair of wins at Willamette before losing in the second round of the state playoffs, 7-2 to Sprague, as the state’s No. 2 seed.

    This year’s squad earned the most single-season wins during Smith’s tenure, finishing 22-5 overall and 18-0 in SWC play.

    Previously, Smith coached South Medford to a runner-up showing in the 2010 state playoffs during his first season at the helm. In nine seasons, he amassed a 124-112 coaching record.

    In the day following the incident, Smith called it “the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.”

    He called the aftermath a very humbling and embarrassing thing to deal with but promised to take the issue on with full clarity and responsibility, and with a desire to use the moment as the best lesson he could teach his players on accountability.

    “Don’t worry about me, though,” he said in May, “worry about these kids and the community we have here in our program. That’s who I’m more worried about. I can own up to it myself, but the people I let down ... that’s for me the hardest part. I’ve just got to fix this.”

    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488,, or

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