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Fired Coach Says Decision was Personal

A recently dismissed assistant football coach at Milford High School says the decision to end his employment was made out of a personal dislike for him rather than in the best interests of the student-athletes at MHS.
"I felt it was personal," said Pat Cornelius, who was fired after ripping into a couple of senior members of the football team last month. Cornelius said he walked in on one of the students in a bathroom stall with approximately 25 freshmen standing outside. When he came around the corner inquiring what was happening, a diminutive freshman popped out of the stall where the senior was going to the bathroom.
"I was stunned, I couldn't believe what I saw," he said, while admitting that he lost his temper, yelling at the students and using a number of profanities. "I was yelling at the top of my lungs, I threw our game plan on the floor and I kicked a garbage can coming out of the varsity locker room."
Cornelius reported the incident to school administrators who launched an investigation and ended up taking disciplinary action against the students involved. Cornelius was surprised when, later that afternoon; he was told he could not coach the team that weekend against Holy Name.
"They told me this was 'bad for me,' and told me I couldn't coach because the kids didn't feel safe around me," he said. "At this point, the only people they had talked to were the two students I had yelled at."
In a statement released by Superintendent Robert Tremblay, he said the school administration conducted a thorough investigation of a report of "conduct unbecoming of a coach" and presented Cornelius with "a number of alternatives" to termination.
Cornelius disputes the notion that the other options would have resulted in keeping his job.
"They told me I could go to see a therapist or seek counseling, but nothing was written in stone that I was ever going to get my job back," he said. "Was I supposed to pay for it? Probably. I don't have an issue as far as needing to see anyone. Maybe I overreacted, but I felt it was the right thing to do to stop what was happening and let them know it was not going to be tolerated."
Cornelius also says he was offered the option of resigning with pay. "I told them 'you can put a million dollars down and I am not going to take it, I don't want your money," he said.
Cornelius feels he was denied due process when the school administration did not offer a verbal or written warning prior to dismissing him, as he says is called for in the school's handbook. He also served as a coach for the winter and spring track teams, a position from which he assumes he has also been terminated.
"There are people in the administration who I never hit it off with and they say I intimidate the kids, they bring up my size and my past, said Cornelius, who played division one college and professional football and had a reputation for fighting that may have cut short a once promising career. "I've turned my life around, if anyone is intimidated by me, it's (the administration). I've had numerous parents tell me since this happened that they feel their kids are safest with me."
Despite saying he will continue to pursue the matter in a possible wrongful termination lawsuit, he said he does not want his job back under the current administration. Tremblay has said he will not comment further on the matter and other school officials are not permitted to comment on personnel decisions.
"I feel the decision (to fire him) came from all of them," said Cornelius, referring to the administration as a whole. "I will not work for them again, that's not what this is about. I want kids to know they can stand up for what they believe in without retaliation from other kids or from the school."




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