On Monday, a high school football coach was fired from Camden Catholic High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He claimed that he was fired because he recruited too many black players for the football team.
The school says that there's no basis for those allegations, and that they are “complete falsehoods.”
Here's what you need to know
Nick Strom was a history teacher and football and golf coach for Camden Catholic High School until the school asked him to step down from his coaching roles on April 30.
Strom refused, accusing the school of trying to force him out because he was recruiting too many black players for the football team.
On Monday, the school fired him from his coaching positions, and put him on paid administrative leave from his job as a history teacher. It also informed him that his contract as a history teacher would not be renewed for the new school year.
A group of 26 parents is suing the school to have Strom reinstated, enlisting the help of the local chapter of the NAACP. Lloyd Henderson, the NAACP attorney representing the parents and the head of the Camden County East NAACP, told local Philadelphia CBS affiliate KWY-TV that he does not plan on backing down:
“We’ll find out as time goes on what the allegations are, whether they’re true, whether they are made up. Somebody’s lying,”
What did the teacher say?
Strom claims that in 2014 the school's president asked him to “get more white players on the field,” apparently in a move to connect more with alumni. He said that he was fired after he insisted on recruiting black players as well as white players for his football team.
Strom told KYW:
“There have always been questions from the administration from the first time I started on the makeup of the team. Freshman that we were bringing in, transfers that we bring in, people that we play on the field and you try and be above that as a coach and you try to give kids an opportunity.”
What did the school say?
The school dismissed Strom's accusations as baseless. School officials say that they removed him from his position for an altercation he had with another teacher in front of students, and for violating the school's dress code by wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes.
The school recently release a statement in a letter addressed to alumni, which read in part:
“Recently, you may have heard and read allegations of racism Nick Strom unjustly aimed at our school and its football program. I want to emphasize that these allegations have no basis in reality, and we categorically deny them. Camden Catholic is proud to educate students from all races, backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses across our region. We are among the most diverse schools in South Jersey, and we have always cherished the rich and varied fabric that has long been characteristic of CCHS. Mr. Strom is peddling complete falsehoods to drive a wedge in this community to advance his own agenda.”
Mary Whipkey, the school president Strom accused of telling him to hire more white players, spoke to the Courier-Post:
“We are not that kind of environment and we take it very seriously when those accusations are made,” she said. “This is a special community here. We embrace our diversity here. Those accusations are not true.”
The Catholic Diocese of Camden is reportedly looking into Strom's allegations against the school.