WESTON, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — A Connecticut basketball coach fired over his role in a comedy film a decade ago has gotten his job back.
Mike Hvizdo fought for weeks to regain his position as basketball coach at Weston High School after being forced out over a decade-old film he appeared in, and thanks to an aggressive campaign through the media to clear his name he got the answer the was looking for Friday.
Weston Public Schools issued the following statement:
“Dr. Colleen Palmer, Ms. Lisa Wolak, Mr. Mark Berkowitz, and Mr. Michael Hvizdo are pleased to announce that they have agreed that Mr. Hvizdo will be returning to serve as Head Coach for Varsity Boys Basketball at Weston High School. Through further discussion, we have worked through the issues surrounding Mr. Hvizdo’s resignation, which he has been permitted to rescind, and have clarified the district’s expectations concerning his performance. We welcome Mr. Hvizdo back to our coaching staff, and we wish him and the Boys Basketball team every success for the future.”
Late Friday afternoon a spokesperson for Hvizdo, Terri Clevenger, sent CBS 2’s Lou Young an e-mail reading: “Thanks to you, Mike has his job back.”
The truth, though, is numerous parents, student athletes and local journalists worked for weeks bringing the story to light, and pressure to bear on the Weston School District and Superintendent Palmer. Hvizdo, who owns a pair of health juice bars in Fairfield County, hired lawyers specializing in First Amendment issues, and intellectual property. He had vowed to take legal action if he didn’t get his job back.
Hvizdo spoke exclusively with Young on Thursday.
“Coaching basketball is my biggest passion and I believe if you don’t have passion in life, you’re not living. These 30 kids are like my sons and they were ripped away from me,” Hvizdo said.
At issue was a 9-minute-long, black and white comedy short film called “Forbidden Fruit,” which was emailed to the school district by an anonymous tipster.
Young said the film is reportedly vulgar, but contains no nudity.
After seeing it, the superintendent either fired Hvizdo or forced his resignation, depending on who you believe.
When asked if he was ashamed of the film, Hvizdo responded “One hundred percent, no.”
“It’s an R-rated comedy that I portrayed a character in over a decade ago as a professional actor when I was living in New York City in my 20s,” Hvizdo said.
Outraged supporters said there was no reason to cut the coach.
“It’s an injustice,” said one Weston parent.
Weston’s computers and the phones had been working overtime in Hvizdo’s defense. A recent school board meeting drew a large crowd of protesters. Many said they were baffled.
“He’s an excellent coach and a wonderful mentor to my son,” said parent Megan Couch.
The film that started this whole mess has been taken offline since the controversy, but people who have seen it, including Hvizdo’s wife, said it’s harmless.
“It’s no worse than ‘The Hangover,’ more along the lines of ‘American Pie,’ in shorter form,” Carissa Hvizdo said.
“I just want my job back!” Hvizdo said.
The coach has one other film to his credit. it’s called “The Naked Brothers Band,” which is rated “G” on Nickelodeon.
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