NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Just days before a playoff game, a legendary football coach has been suspended.
The decision was met with anger that boiled over Thursday morning in New Rochelle, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Players held up signs and parents raised their voices, chanting “We support Coach D!”
“Coach D” is 28-year veteran coach Lou DiRienzo. He was recently “reassigned” by New Rochelle City School District Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijoo, who has been on the job only two weeks.
A recent inductee in the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame, DiRienzo won’t coach Saturday’s Class AA regional playoff game at Mahopac High School in Putnam County. A victory would send the Hugenots (10-0), who are ranked No. 2 in the state, to next weekend’s semifinals as they continue the pursuit of their third state championship in school history.
CBS2 has learned DiRienzo allegedly interfered in a possible disciplinary situation at the high school involving a student who is a distant relation of his. Parents said normally something like that would be quietly investigated and resolved. Feijoo, however, went public with her decision to suspend DiRienzo from his duties, even before the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing was completed.
“The information we have at the time matters, and that’s how we make our decisions on the details of particular incidents. But if it escalates to the point of reassignment, I think it’s only fair that the community are aware,” Feijoo said.
Web Extra: New Rochelle Superintendent Attempts To Explain Why She Suspended Varsity Football Coach:
On Thursday, Feijoo met with angry parents, who said she rushed to judgment in disclosing the reassignment before getting to the bottom of what happened.
“I think you’ve only been here two weeks and you made a very rash, irrational decision,” parent Raychelle Copeland said.
“With every bone in my body I will fight for this man!” another person said.
“It’s the difference of public humiliation. You’re painting this guy, and when details come out you will see that it didn’t warrant this kind of attention,” Rice said.
In a brief phone conversation, DiRienzo told Aiello, “My personal life will never get involved in my professional life and coaching these you men and mentoring these young men is first and foremost.”
The teachers union president told Aiello, “We are upset she chose to disclose this even before we could all meet. ‘Faux transparency’ does not trump our member’s right to due process.”
Assistant coaches will lead the team Saturday against Utica Proctor. If New Rochelle wins, it’s possible DiRienzo could return for the state semis on Nov. 23 at Middletown High School in Orange County.