Published October 04. 2012 4:00AM
The St. Bernard/Norwich Tech football coaching staff was told Wednesday to resign or be fired, head coach Scott Cook said.
Cook said executive union representative Ed Levy of Norwich Tech told Cook the news during a testy phone call.
Cook informed his players of the news before Wednesday's practice.
Cook's coaching salary for the cooperative program comes from Norwich Tech, making him a de facto part-time state employee. Part-time employees are not entitled to representation, Cook said.
It is unclear whether the program will have enough players to finish the season. St. Bernard/Norwich Tech has a bye week this week and is scheduled to play Bacon Academy on Oct. 13 in Colchester.
"Our whole football team wants coach Cook," lineman Matt Manavas, a senior at Norwich Tech, said. "He's a part of our family. He's worked his butt off for us. He's been in the film room for hours and we don't want to lose him. Our whole team will not play for anyone else. We will refuse to play for any other coach that comes."
Cook said he took photos of an empty locker room Wednesday night and that the players dropped all their equipment at the door of St. Bernard athletic director Brendan Case.
"Basically, he's an employee at Norwich Tech," Case said. "It's a personnel matter and I don't have any comment on it."
Matt Fischer, a spokesman for the CIAC, said the cooperative program lists 48 players on the official roster it submitted, 26 from Norwich Tech.
Tucker Johns, a senior on the team from Norwich Tech, said the players plan to rally today at 6:50 a.m. at the Norwich Skate Park in support of their coach.
"All the equipment is handed in," Manavas said. "(Today), we will be handing in our helmets to make a statement."
Cook said Levy cited an incident on a school bus over a year ago among the primary reasons for his dismissal.
"Two of the players (from Norwich Tech) were involved in a scuffle," Cook said. "It was over a year ago. They're saying I didn't handle it properly. I didn't know what I was supposed to. It was a Norwich Tech incident. I made them run hills for their behavior. I told (Norwich Tech athletic director) Tim Krodel the rest of the disciplinary actions were up to them. I didn't feel it had anything to do with me."
Attempts to reach Krodel, who was coaching the Norwich Tech volleyball team Wednesday night in Hartford, were unsuccessful.
Cook said he was concerned about a lack of administrative support for the program during the summer.
"I knew something was up when I was told Brendan was adamant that we play NFA and Fitch. I got that information from other coaches," Cook said. "We're trying to rebuild and we're dropping three teams we beat last year. It didn't make sense. They never talked to me about it."
Cook said he finally was granted a meeting July 4 with Case, headmaster Tom Doherty and assistant headmaster Mary Dillman.
"I expressed my concerns that they weren't supporting the program," Cook said. "They pretty much ignored everything I brought up. Doherty ended the meeting by saying 'three wins isn't going to get it done.' He got up and walked out."
Cook said he alerted Case about insufficient equipment - needing kneepads, shoulder pads and thigh pads - and was ignored. "Here we are talking about safety first for the kids," Cook said.
Cook led the Saints to a three-win season in 2011, an improvement on previous years.