Superintendent Speaks After Firing Longtime Hoops Coach | News
AMHERST, N.Y. - Members of a local community are demanding answers about why a local school district fired one of its long-time coaches.
For 24 years, the name Al Monaco has been synonymous with Williamsville South basketball. That all ended last week when the district removed him without any explanation. So Tuesday night, we went looking for one.
At first, Williamsville superintendent Scott Martzloff continued to be tight-lipped about why he fired Monaco -- a move that angered his coaching peers. Many of those peers, plus dozens of parents and former players, gathered at the Williamsville School Board meeting Tuesday seeking an explanation.
"To hear the allegations that are brought forth not only shocking, but the fact that he was dismissed so quickly with what seems like an investigation that had a lot of holes in it, is disturbing to all coaches," Depew Boys' Basketball Coach Larry Jones said.
Amherst Police did confirm for us that the families of three-to-four of Monaco's players, either current or former, complained that the coach was verbally harassing them. Police said they determined no crime was committed, adding that the type of alleged harassment involved name-calling, although nothing that involved race, class or gender.
Former Williamsville South player Chris Barrett, who attended the meeting, defended Monaco.
REPORTER: In your time playing for him, did you ever hear him say anything to anyone that was inappropriate?
BARRETT: No. And you know what, I can't comment on things that I wasn't present for, but all I can comment on is my experience with coach, and he left me a better player and a better person than when I came in.
The superintendent eventually agreed to take questions from reporters about Monaco.
MARTZLOFF: I can't comment on that any further, it's a personnel matter. It's private. It's privileged information. We have to protect his privacy as well as his rights as a district employee.
REPORTER: There is a room here filled with supporters of his and there are many around the community who at least want to know, and have some sense, about what happened. Don't you feel that the district owes them some sort of explanation?
MARTZLOFF: Well, I can only tell you that we treat our employees very fairly, that this was the result of a six-month investigation, where we talked to dozens and dozens of individuals, whether they be students, parents, community members, teachers, administrators from all over the community. And it did involve the Amherst Police Department doing their own investigation, and at the end of the day, we had to make a decision, and again, it's not something that we took lightly. This is very difficult for the school district and certainly people who have been positively impacted by this coach, but it's the direction we're going in.
Carolyn Nugent Gorczynski, an attorney for Coach Monaco, told us: "There are two sides to this story, and we are of the opinion that the district only listened to one of them." She also said last season, before police became involved, Coach Monaco intervened in an incident in which players were bullying other players. She would not elaborate further. Neither would the school district.