Interim Murphy coach once accused of misconduct

EVERETT — The man named Tuesday as interim head football coach at Archbishop Murphy High School surrendered his teaching license in Oregon after an investigation concluded he engaged in inappropriate conduct with a high school student.

Michael Allison was hired as a physical-education instructor at Archbishop Murphy High School this summer and was an assistant football coach. His promotion came after Bill Marsh suddenly resigned as coach of what’s considered one of the strongest football teams in the state.

Allison, 41, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Archbishop Murphy athletic director Jerry Zander said the school was aware of the Oregon allegations before hiring Allison.

“We investigated and determined that there were no criminal allegations against him at all,” Zander said. “This was just an allegation. He underwent a series of background and reference checks through us and everything came back fine.”

Allison entered a formal stipulation, a legal document acknowledging that evidence showed he violated Oregon teaching rules after a 2009 investigation by that state’s Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. The commission governs who is allowed to teach in Oregon.

The commission found that Allison, who was the head football coach and teacher at Gresham High School from 2004 until his resignation in August 2009, “communicated inappropriately with a female student via cell phone and text messaging and failed to maintain an appropriate professional relationship with a student.”

The report also states that he “failed to report to school district officials that a student had romantic feelings toward him.”

It goes on to say that friends of the female student accused Allison of allegedly having intimate physical contact with the girl.

Allison denied making inappropriate physical contact, although he stipulated to evidence showing an unprofessional “relationship with a student.”

Gresham, Ore., police investigated the allegations.

“We contacted a number of witnesses and we ended up not going forward with any criminal charges,” said Gresham Police Department detective Tony Cobb, who was the lead investigator on the case.

The commission concluded that Allison was in violation of four Oregon administrative rules governing teachers.

Documents show Allison surrendered his Oregon teaching license on May 14, 2010. He signed the stipulation and order to revoke his license on April 5, 2010.

“He absolutely denies all allegations in this matter,” Zander said. “He was not charged with anything.”

Zander said Allison gave up his teaching license on the advice of his union legal council, and that Allison now is in the process of trying to get his Oregon teacher’s license reinstated.

Cobb confirmed that he has been subpoenaed to testify in front of a review board looking into the reinstatement of Allison’s license.

Zander said he doesn’t know whether Allison is certified to teach in Washington state, but added that it’s not a requirement for teachers at private schools.

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has no record of Allison applying for a teaching certificate.

Zander said that administrators at Murphy have kept in contact with parents throughout the process of replacing Marsh. “But we can’t disclose everything that has occurred in the last 24 hours with parents,” Zander added.

One man whose son plays on the Archbishop Murphy football team told The Herald on Wednesday that the school said nothing to him about the past allegations against Allison. The Herald is not naming the family to protect the student.

Allison’s problems in Oregon weren’t secret.

In August 2009, he was the focus of an article in The Oregonian, reporting that he’d resigned as Gresham football coach and was the focus of a police investigation. The probe was launched after a parent’s complaint, the newspaper reported.

After leaving Gresham, Allison became an assistant coach at Rex Putnam High School in Milwaukie, Ore., in 2010. A year later he served as a defensive quality coach at Portland State University.

“Since the alleged issue occurred he has been employed by two other public institutions, one high school and one university,” Zander said.

Before coming to Gresham, Allison was the head coach at Marist, a private Catholic school in Eugene, Ore. Allison led Marist to a state championship in 2003.

Aaron Swaney covers prep sports for The Herald. Call him at 425-339-3471, follow him on Twitter @swaney_aaron79 or email him at aswaney@heraldnet.com.

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