Manasquan High School's athletic director was not going to recommend girls varsity basketball coach Felix Romero to return next season, officials said.
Schools Superintendent Geraldine Margin said this week that due to several complaints from parents, school officials and rival programs regarding Romero's conduct during games and practices, Athletic Director Ronald Kornegay did not want the head coach of the record-setting, team to come back for another season. Romero from his post last month.
Meanwhile, former assistant coach Tom Flaherty, of his duties last December, accused Kornegay of micromanaging the team during its championship season by telling the coaches whom to play and not play. When the coaches did not give in to the pressure, Kornegay began finding ways to get rid of them, Flaherty said.
While Kornegay declined to comment on Flaherty's accusations, Margin said the director never told coaches how to run their team and did "everything professionally."
Romero this week did not return calls for comment, but has previously said he because he wanted a job closer to his home in Perth Amboy.
"There were issues that we were concerned about with the team. We had parents that expressed concern, and (Kornegay) dealt with them the way he should have as the athletic director," Margin said.
Some of those concerns, Margin said, were related to team discipline and certain players getting extra practice time.
Flaherty said the coaches treated every player the same and that he was probably the hardest on his own daughter, sophomore Katelyn Flaherty.
In addition, the administration was concerned with Romero holding offseason practices and using the gym without authorization.
Flaherty also said last week that Kornegay promised Romero a teaching position at the school when he signed on as head coach three years ago.
Margin denies that claim, but added that officials typically say they'll make an attempt to find coaches jobs in the district and that Romero in fact turned down a full-time substitute position last school year.
"I can tell you that Mr. Kornegay, as director of athletics, did everything he was supposed to do professionally," Margin said. "(Kornegay) never told (the coaches) whom to play."
Romero has said that he was under the impression he'd be hired to teach in the district, and when a job didn't materialize after three years, he decided it was time to move on.
Margin said that the administration had received several complaints over the years regarding Romero, including that he ran up scores during games.
"We were starting to get a reputation, and the feeling was that we didn't want to do that — Manasquan isn't that type of school," Margin said.
Kornegay directed the coaches to not run the score up when it was "obvious" the team was winning and to play the bench, Margin said.
"Which is normal practice," Margin said.
Flaherty has previously been accused of running non-sanctioned practices with players at a public park in Wall Township — a claim the former coach has denied several times.
Flaherty said he and other parents would sit at Orchard Park while girls from the High School team played pick-up games with players from other schools.
Flaherty, who credits Romero with turning around a program in disarray when the coaches inherited it three years ago, said the coaches were pressured to play seniors and juniors over freshmen and sophomores, including Marina Mabrey and Katelyn Flaherty.
According to Flaherty, the relationship between Kornegay and the coaches, which at first was harmonious, began to decline when they refused to start older players in favor of the "best" players.
Senior star-player Michaela Mabrey did not return calls for comment.
Flaherty said Kornegay looked for ways to punish certain players, which eventually led to a two-game suspension handed down to freshman Marina Mabrey and sophomore Flaherty last season for alleged "inappropriate language" on Facebook.
Initially the claim was labelled as "cyber bullying," and after Flaherty fought the decision with the administration, the assistant coach fell out of favor with Korengay and was eventually relieved of his duties, Flaherty said.
The administration's official reason for parting ways with Flaherty has been that it was an "administrative" decision, but the former coach has said it had more to do with the accusations of unauthorized practices at Orchard Park, which he believes stemmed from Kornegay's desire to gain more control of the team and coaches.
Flaherty said that Kornegay went to see the pick-up games himself, and told the former coach that he could not see any evidence of coaching.
Still, when Kornegay asked Flaherty to refrain from attending those sessions, the former coach complied for the next two months, Flaherty said.
"Kornegay did a lot of wrong things and nobody stood up for us," Flaherty said.
Romero has said he is more concerned with finding a full-time job near his home in Perth Amboy than returning to coaching next season.
"I'm not in any rush to jump right back into coaching," Romero has said.