A New Jersey high school football coach says he lost his job because he had too many black players on the team.
Nick Strom told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post that he has been fired as coach of the town's Camden Catholic High School team despite a 34-6 record over four years. He has also been placed on administrative leave as a history teacher. The school disputes that his firing has anything to do with race.
"I think this is from me not conforming with their viewpoints on what they want the student body and the football team to look like," Strom said, according to the Courier Post. "I've tried to build this program into one that's based on kids being of ability, high character and high grades.
"From day one, the administration told me they did not approve of the ratio of black to white students."
Strom, who is white, told the newspaper that half of the team is made up of minorities. He said the race ratio of the team came up "10 to 20 times" with the administration.
"When I'd have a list of potential freshmen, the first question I'd be asked is if they were white or black," he said, according to the Courier-Post. "I was confused about why the question was, 'How can we get more white players in the program or on the field?'"
School president Mary Whipkey denied Strom's allegations on Monday.
"We are not that kind of environment and we take it very seriously when those accusations are made," Whipkey told the Courier-Post. "This is a special community here. We embrace our diversity here. Those accusations are not true."
Strom told the newspaper that he plans to file a grievance with the teachers' union.
He disclosed the letter that he received saying his contract would not be renewed. Among the issues cited for the decision are "professional dress violations" and "disrespect to the President after being questioned on your professional dress." The school also accused Strom of leaving class early to prepare for golf and leaving his class in the hallway to talk to a college coach.
Strom, 30, told the Courier-Post that he did have a conversation with Whipkey about not wearing a tie. He also said that he asked a fellow faculty member to watch his class while he unlocked a locker room for the golf team.
According to the newspaper, 25 people, including football players and parents, gathered in the parking lot of the school in support of Strom on Monday morning. They met with administrators, who they said would not answer questions but listened to their viewpoint.
Later Monday, 22 students walked out of class.