Pa. high school: Football coach fired after probe into 'inappropriate student conduct'

TONY LaRUSSA
The (Greensburg) Tribune Review (TNS)
Students gather in front of Pine-Richland High School rallying in support of the fired head football coach Eric Kasperowicz Friday, Apr. 16, 2021, in Richland Twp., Pa. (Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette via AP)

Pine-Richland's school board president did not release any details about a three-month long investigation into allegations of misbehavior in the high school football program during a news conference Tuesday.

He said at the conclusion of the district's probe "neither the administration nor any member of the nine-member school board" could recommend extending coach Eric Kasperowicz's contract for another season.

Board President Peter Lyons said the news conference was called because "increased traffic on social and other media platforms perpetuates untruths and half-truths which are a threat to the district, the students, staff and community."

Lyons did not take questions from members of the media after reading his prepared statement.

The board president said the investigation looked at "specific allegations of inappropriate student conduct and a broader allegation of misconduct with the football program, including, but not limited to hazing, bullying, intimidation and rites of passage."

Lyons said dozens of students, coaches and parents were interviewed and that an "in depth" interview was conducted with Kasperowicz.

Reasons for decision: He said the decision not to bring the coach back for the 2021-22 season was based on:

►Findings from the investigation

►Documented football program-related events over multiple years during the coach's tenure with the program

►The interview with Kasperowicz

Northern Regional Police told the Tribune-Review that it was not contacted by the district to investigate allegations of inappropriate behavior in the football program.

Kasperowicz received a letter outlining the findings and the recommendation that his contract not be renewed along with an opportunity to respond, Lyons said.

Lyons did not say whether the coach responded to the letter from the district.

"Any statement indicating that no reason was given for the district's actions is categorically false," Lyons said.

District officials previously refused to acknowledge that an investigation was conducted.

Coach denies accusations: Kasperowicz has repeatedly denied accusations that improper activity occurred under his watch.

Since learning that he would not be returning to coach the football team, current and former players, parents and supporters expressed anger and confusion over the district's lack of an explanation for the coach's dismissal.

Support pours in: Kasperowicz also has received significant support since learning that his contract would not be renewed.

On Friday, scores of students held a rally outside the football stadium to show support for Kasperowicz, and a school board member resigned later that day amid the controversy.

A change.org petition calling for the reinstatement of the entire football coaching staff garnered nearly 9,000 signatures as of 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Kasperowicz has also been receiving support from other football coaches.

Don Holl, the athletic director/football coach at Gateway sent an email to fellow members of the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association urging them not to apply for the open Pine-Richland coaching spot.

On Monday, the Pine Richland Youth Football & Cheer organization organized a six-minute show of "silent support" for Kasperowicz.

Possible meeting: Kasperowicz, who has reapplied for the coaching position, recently reached out to district officials through an advisor to try to set up a meeting with district administrators to try to resolve the issue.

District officials did not respond to emails from the Tribune-Review about whether they would meet with him.

Kasperowicz declined comment Tuesday.