The Pine-Richland School District has revealed the recent termination of former state champion head football coach last week came after a three-month-long investigation, longer than the "recent weeks" initially reported.
Officials confirmed the investigation into allegations of misconduct within the Pine-Richland High School football program lasted three months before former coach Eric Kasperowicz and his entire staff were fired last Wednesday (April 14), WPXI reports.
The district issued a statement in support of the decision to fire the Pine-Richland staff based on “inappropriate student conduct and a broader allegation of misconduct within the football program, including, but not limited to hazing, bullying, intimidation and ‘rites of passage.’”
“Any statement indicating that no reason was given for the district’s action s is categorically false,” the statement reads. “The district is aware of, and acknowledges, the successful winning record of the program and its importance to many student-athletes. We are saddened by what we see happening in the community as a result of perpetuated misinformation. We understand that community’s desire for full transparency and have made a consistent effort to balance that against the legal duty that the district has to preserve the confidentiality of personal information. The district will continue to move forward with decisions and actions that align to the mission, vision and values. The district will continue to release additional specific communications regarding this matter.”
On Friday (April 16), WPXI's Jillian Hartmann reported several parents attended a virtual school board meeting held to protest Kasperowicz's termination.
"#HAPPENINGNOW Several parents are begging Pine-Richland school board members to bring back the football coaches during today’s special virtual meeting. Many have shared their frustration and disappointment in the decision of firing the coaching staff," Hartmann tweeted.
Additionally, WTAE's Chandi Chapman reports students at Pine-Richland participated in a rally behind Kasperwoicz and his staff on Friday following their termination.
Kasperowicz was informed that his position would be advertised in an email exchange with athletic director Sean Simmons amid allegations of misconduct in the locker room, TribLIVE reports.
Pine-Richland went 85-18 and won four WPIAL championships and two state titles -- including a state championship last fall -- during eight seasons under Kasperwicz.
However, school administrators were initially reported to have spent recent weeks investigating allegations of hazing or misconduct in the locker room, which included questioning current and former football players.
TribLIVE reports Kasperowicz was initially scheduled to meet with school officials on 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, but was fired in an email sent prior to the meeting.
An email from Simmons informed Kasperowicz that his assistants would also be fired and would need to reapply after a new coach was hired, sources confirmed to TribLIVE.
Kasperowicz served as Pine-Richland's football coach while also teaching at his alma mater, North Hills.
“This will probably be one of worst firings in WPIAL history,” said Pine-Richand senior football player Charlie Mill. “I don’t know how you can fire a guy who wins two state championships.”
Mill and fellow senior Cole Spencer confirmed they were among the players interviewed by school administrators in relation to the allegations and both said most of the claims were from before they attended the high school and neither witnessed anything alarming.
“To my knowledge, nothing really crossed the line with players doing things to other players,” Spencer told TribLIVE. “It was always between two best friends messing around. It was never anything that crossed the line. But I guess maybe other people said and saw otherwise.”
“Not one time in my Pine-Richland career did I see anything where I said, ‘This is real bad,’” Mill added. “I think a couple of instances that (administrators were asking about) weren’t even at the school. Some of the complaints happened at the cafeteria. And a lot of these allegations were when I was in middle school.”
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