CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Students and parents showed up outside Camden Catholic High School on Monday morning to protest the firing of the football coach.
There are allegations being made over the firing of Nick Strom – who is white – and they include issues about race. The Diocese of Camden says they are looking into allegations his firing may have been racially motivated.READ MORE: Philadelphia Police Officer Dragged 5 Blocks By Vehicle During Traffic Stop In West Philadelphia
“At four o’clock they told me that I’m on administrative leave as a teacher for the rest of the year and no longer the football and golf coach,” Strom tells CBS3.
Strom, who was also a history teacher, insists he was fired because he has too many black players on the football team.
“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,” Strom said.
Strom says he treats all players with respect—regardless of race.
“I don’t care what they do, I come out there to make a statement for my coach,” said junior Jeremy Nutt.Children's Hospital Of Philadelphia Opens New Inpatient Hospital In King of Prussia
On Monday, players and parents protested in wake of the firing.
“You need to open up your mind to different things, even your prejudice issues. It may not be all of you, but you need to open your mind up to all the kids that are here, whether it be white, black, any ethnicity that you are. We want to be one community,” said football player Matthew Davis.
Camden Catholic High School issued a statement denying the allegations, calling them “baseless.”
“We do not comment on personnel matters, but it has come to our attention that he has chosen to muddy the reasons for his dismissal with baseless accusations against the school administration. Any concern about racism or racial insensitivity is taken seriously and fully investigated,” said the school.
CBS3 received a copy of the letter the school issued to the coach for his “non-renewal,” citing issues like a professional dress code violation by wearing sneakers instead of dress shoes, and confronting another teacher in front of students.
“I think this is all to cover up the fact that they can’t say what really the problem is,” said Tyrone Bellford, Strom’s former high school coach.
Bellford says the accusations against the school’s administration are not baseless. He says that Strom has confided in him over the past year.
“In one of our conversations, he said it seemed the administration is kind of pushing me about the number of minority students I have coming in here. He talked to me about several instances, where he thought there were some minority students were disciplined, where they were expelled or let go from the school and on one occasion it was a white student who did something he wasn’t. He had serious concerns,” said Bellford.MORE NEWS: EXCLUSIVE: Arson Charges Filed In Fire That Caused Thousands Of Dollars Of Damage At Sewell Goodwill Store
Family members say they met with Strom after the protest. They say he’s not really concerned about his career, but worried about the future of minority students at the school.