Former Camden Catholic High School football coach Nick Strom claims he was fired because he had more black players on his team than the school’s administration wanted.
Strom, who was also the school’s golf coach, has also been placed on administrative leave from his job as a history teacher at the Cherry Hill, New Jersey school. School president Mary Whipkey and principal Heather Crisci told Strom on Friday that his contract as a teacher would not be renewed, the Courier Post reports.
He was informed of his firing from his coaching positions late Monday.
“I think this is from me not conforming with their viewpoints on what they want the student body and the football team to look like,” Strom told the Courier Post. “I’ve tried to build this program into one that’s based on kids being of ability, high character and high grades.
“From day one, the administration told me they did not approve of the ratio of black to white students.”
Strom told the Courier Post that Whipkey brought up race 10 to 20 times since he took the football coaching job in 2013.
“When I’d have a list of potential freshmen, the first question I’d be asked is if they were white or black,” Strom said. “I was confused about why the question was, ‘How can we get more white players in the program or on the field?'”
— Courier-Post (@cpsj) May 1, 2018
Whipkey denied Strom’s claims Monday afternoon.
“We are not that kind of environment and we take it very seriously when those accusations are made,” Whipkey told the Courier-Post. “This is a special community here. We embrace our diversity here. Those accusations are not true.”
The school later released a statement:
“We do not comment on personnel matters, but it has come to our attention that he has chosen to muddy the reasons for his dismissal with baseless accusations against the school and administration. Any concern about racism or racial insensitivity is taken seriously and investigated fully.”
A group of Strom’s supporters gathered in the school parking lot Monday morning morning to meet with school administrators. When staff declined to answer any of their questions, 22 students walked out of class, according to the report.
Strom received a letter from Whipkey related to his non-renewal citing dress code violations, disrespect for the school president, leaving class early to tend to coaching duties, confronting faculty members in front of students and allowing students to leave class.
Camden Catholic compiled a 34-6 record in football under Strom’s watch.
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