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Nationwide push questions motives behind suspension of gay coach

Leadership not backing down despite Mayor, Union and GLSEN expressing concern.

Anthony Nicodemo
Anthony Nicodemo has been targeted for suspension after hosting an LGBTQ inclusion event.

The motives behind the suspension of gay high school basketball Anthony Nicodemo, as well as fellow coach Chris DiCintio, are being questioned by elected officials, the state teachers union and national civil-rights organizations.

The controversy stems from the suspension of these two coaches by New York’s high school sports organization after they participated in an LGBTQ-inclusion event in January called “Pride on the Court.” Neither the coaches nor the athletic directors were allowed to defend themselves in a hearing, and they have not been told who brought the accusations.

“Due to a lack of transparency on Section One’s part, we have no choice but to question the motive for such a harsh punishment,” GLSEN said in a statement. “We are left wondering whether homophobia may have played a role in the council’s decision.”

Jennifer Simmons, the executive director of New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Section One, and Section One President James Mackin told Outsports in a statement that the coaches remain suspended. They said the failure of the schools’ athletic directors to file paperwork with the section for an event sponsored by Nike is a violate of state rules and the coaches must pay the price.

“The Section has been consistent in its response to first time violations of this rule, namely, that the coach of the offending team(s) is to sit out one game. The Section’s Athletic Council met and, given the circumstances presented by the Saunders HS vs. Somers HS game at Sarah Lawrence College and sponsored by Nike, applied its long-standing rule as no prior authorization was sought by either school prior to the game being played.”

Nicodemo told Outsports that the only contribution Nike made to the event were T-shirts, and that there was no financial transaction with Nike.

Despite their attack on the event participants, Simmons and Mackin said Section One “fully supports the ‘Pride on the Court’ message.”

The lack of transparency in the entire process has also now garnered the attention of some big political heavy hitters.

Mike Spano, the Mayor of Yonkers, where Nicodemo lives and coaches, released his own statement on the situation Friday afternoon, Tweeting that Nicodemo is a “dedicated coach and educator who truly cares about our youth in Yonkers.”

The statement read, in part:

“The lack of transparency with this situation leaves several questions unanswered,” said Spano in referencing the action taken against the LGBTQ inclusion event. “My hope is that Section 1 reconsiders their position and a coach is not admonished over a technicality.”

Yonkers is the fourth most populous city in the State of New York.

The New York State United Teachers union has now petitioned the state governing board to overturn the coaches’ suspension and investigate the circumstances that led to the suspensions.

“I am writing today to seek the immediate re-instatement of Saunders High School basketball Coach Anthony Nicodemo and Somers High School Coach Chris DiCintio,” wrote ​​​​​Andy Pallotta​​​​​, president of NYSUT, “and to demand the NYS Public High School Athletic Association conduct a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to their wrongful suspension – including whether the actions taken against them are the result of any discriminatory behavior.”

The union took specific aim at Simmons.

“It is outrageous — and contrary to the lessons of fairness and sportsmanship that educators stress every day — for Section One Executive Director Jen Simmons to, more than one month later, suspend Nicodemo and DiCintio for what appears to be an inadvertent clerical error not of their own making. It raises serious questions about whether their punishment was discriminatory in nature.”

Transparency in all organizations is designed in part to protect minorities from tyranny. That minority could be based on opinion, perspective, gender, race or sexual orientation.

The voices speaking out on this seem to be getting louder and pointing to tyranny run amok.