Alex Vega was fired from his job as John F. Kennedy’s football coach and he has no idea why, he told The Post on Monday.
Vega, who had just completed his fifth season, was called into school principal Anthony Rotunno’s office Friday and informed that he would be dismissed effective immediately. When Vega asked Rotunno the reason, the principal refused to tell him, Vega said.
“I can’t even defend myself, because I don’t know why he’s firing me,” said a shocked Vega.
Rotunno didn’t return calls from The Post on Monday night.
The now former coach said he has gotten the teacher’s union involved and he will file a formal grievance Tuesday. The appeals process, though, can take up to two years, Vega said.
Kennedy went 1-8 this season, its first losing campaign under Vega, who graduated from the school in 1994 and served as an assistant coach starting in 2000. He guided the Knights to the PSAL semifinals in 2005, his first season, and has mentored a plethora of Division I players, including Stephen Obeng Agyapong and Stephfon Green of Penn State.
“I looked up to him not only as just a coach, but as an older brother, as a great person overall,” Green told The Post. “He extended out his hand to everybody he could.”
Former players weren’t the only ones appalled by the news. DeWitt Clinton coach Howard Langley called it a major blow to Bronx football while Tottenville coach Jim Munson said he isn’t sure how the program could remain at a high level without Vega.
Vega, who broke the news to his team Monday, said he has had run-ins with Rotunno since his first season and sources with knowledge of the situation told The Post that the principal has never been fond of him.
“It’s robbing the kids, it’s robbing the kids of their future,” said Green, the former star now at Penn State. “He’s putting kids in college.”
According to Vega, Rotunno told him after his second season, in 2006, that he didn’t feel Vega “fit the profile of a head coach” and that Rotunno never wanted him to get the job in the first place. This year, Rotunno didn’t let him hire his own assistant coaches and did away with the Kennedy tradition of a merit-based system of putting decals on players’ helmets for big plays.
“He told me, ‘If you put a ‘K’ on those helmets, you’re fired,’” Vega said of the practice that started in 1981. … “We have a lot of tradition. He took away from it.”
Vega said the school also did away with the NFL High School Player Development program and constantly gave the team a hard time about using the field.
“I felt all along that the reason why we weren’t successful was because of [the administration],” said Vega, who is a special ed math teacher at Bronx Theatre HS inside the Kennedy campus.
©2009 Community News Group