After a season plagued with controversy and overshadowed by discord among players, parents and community members, David Flom resigned on Friday after 17 seasons as head coach of the Eden Prairie High School boys basketball team.
The news of Flom’s resignation was shared in an email to families of the Eden Prairie basketball program.
“I have decided it’s time for someone else to take leadership of the Eden Prairie basketball program,” Flom’s statement in the email read. “Unfortunately, in the past several months, some people have made comments and characterizations about me that are not true and that do not accurately represent my track record at Eden Prairie.
“As a result of all of this, I have decided that it is best for me to step aside.”
EPHS associate principal of student activities Russ Reetz acknowledged in the statement that he had received Flom’s resignation.
“Our focus now will be on providing the team with the best possible support and finding ways to heal after a difficult season,” Reetz said.
Flom was suspended by the school district on Dec. 8, pending an investigation into a complaint about his use of a racial slur during a classroom session with the team on Dec. 7.
Flom admittedly read the slur out loud to his players in an attempt to provide guidance in the responsible usage of social media.
Complaints from some parents of Eden Prairie basketball players led to a six-week suspension by the school district. Flom was reinstated on Jan. 23 and resumed coaching immediately.
“I could not possibly be more sorry for all the harm that I have caused.” Flom said in a statement upon his return. “We are trying to focus our attention and energies on helping the players, school and community to move forward with the lessons learned. I am amazed by the support we have received and continue to receive.”
Flom received a standing ovation from the majority of spectators in the Eden Prairie gymnasium before the Eagles’ matchup with Wayzata on Jan. 24, his first game back with the team.
“It’s been the toughest six weeks that I can remember,” Dennis Flom said before the game.
Dennis Flom is the former head coach’s father, and coach of the ninth grade boys basketball team. The elder Flom said he felt “mixed emotions” about his son’s return to the Eden Prairie bench.
“David loves these kids, I do the same because I had these kids in the lower level,” he said. “And so it actually feels good. A little strange, but it feels good.”
Flom’s return was met with resentment by some parents and players, several of whom left the team after the coach’s reinstatement.
“They’ve dealt with a lot and so that needs to continue to be recognized,” Reetz said at the time. “We need to continue to work with our kids, try to make the best of what we have left this season.”
The following week, North St. Paul canceled their game with Eden Prairie in protest of Flom’s reinstatement, after players voted to forego their meeting with the Eagles on Jan. 27.
In the final few games of the season, about a half-dozen protesters sat in the stands with signs calling for Flom’s dismissal. Some parents and students reiterated their concerns about Flom during the public comment session of Monday’s School Board meeting.
With a diminished roster of an already young team, Eden Prairie struggled through the second half of the season, going 3-9 after Flom’s reinstatement.
Eden Prairie finished their season with a loss to Prior Lake in the quarterfinal round of the section playoffs on March 8.
In a tearful locker room, Flom addressed his team for what would be the final time.
“I told them how proud I am of them and how much I love them,” Flom said after the quarterfinal loss.
Adding, “It’s hard when it comes to an end. You’re crying because you put so much into it and you love each other, and there is a lot of that in that locker room.”
Flom took over as head coach in 2006 and led his Eagles teams to eight state tournament appearances. An elementary school teacher in the Eden Prairie school district, Flom’s efforts to educate his players about social media ultimately led to the end of his coaching tenure.
“I tried to be more than just a basketball coach,” he said in Friday’s statement. “I took great pride in attempting to teach life lessons to my players. Unfortunately, my execution of this particular lesson was regrettable.”
Flom was named Coach of the Year by the National High School Basketball Coaches Association after leading Eden Prairie to a 28-0 record in 2020. The Eagles never had the opportunity to compete in the state tournament that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Eden Prairie basketball program has meant so much to my family and me,” Flom said in the statement. “I am hopeful Eden Prairie boys basketball continues its strong tradition under the direction of new leadership.”
Flom finishes his career at Eden Prairie with a 393-165 record, a 70.4 win percentage.
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