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Superintendent: Romero Lost Administration's Endorsement

Former assistant coach Flaherty says athletic director tried 'micromanaging' girls hoops team

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. 

Waverider May 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I disagree, GJD. Manasquan is all about winning and pride. Maybe if the district had administrators who were rooted here they would understand that. When people used to care we didn't have the problems we have now especially student deaths. Cleaning house should have started way above the basketball coaches.
A Concerned Parent May 13, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Fact: Geri Margin and Ron Kornegay are LIARS!!!! Margin's comments and accusations against Felix Romero and the girls basketball program are laughable! And why is she speaking for Mr. Kornegay? Can he speak for himself....or are his only words,"no comment" ? If he believes so strongly in his decision,than why is he not speaking for himself.....two words...lying coward! Felix's conduct during practices and games was never anything but professional. To attack him in that way is simply absurd. Certain players getting extra practice time???? Everyone was allowed and encouraged to stay after practice and get extra shooting...some took advantage and others did not. It only became an issue when Kornegay did not want Tom Flaherty in the gym. Never did Romero or Flaherty hold any type of illegal practices anywhere!!! Kornegay investigated himself and found nothing! Running up scores??? Please....those girls could have easily scored over 100 points many games.....Kornegay said a school called to complain about this....he lied....the school was called and the school said they never said any such thing!! In fact several schools thanked Romero for the way he handled the game. Margin said that Kornegay "never told coaches how to run their team".....another LIE!! Kornegay constantly told Romero who should and shouldn't play..this was a daily occurrence not only this past season but last season as well.
A Concerned Parent May 13, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Margin and Kornegay totally dropped the ball on the so-called"facebook" issue. Instead of protecting 2 of our own student/athletes, they punished them with absolutely no due process...and when they realized they were wrong they simply stared,"no comment'! I know..I was there! The firing of Tom Flaherty...another laughable matter. When all of Ron's accusations were found false,he simply stated,"no comment"..do we see a pattern here? The Manasquan Board of Ed has on record as reported by the 2 parents involved facts showing how Kornegay lied..they chose to do nothing with this. I find it laughable again how Margin speaks of listening to "concerned parents". She and Kornegay were very selective on which parents they listened to..only those who shared their opinions. The saddest part of this whole thing is that Mr.Kornegay and Ms. Margin have truly lost sight of who THEY have hurt the most..the young ladies who have worked so hard. What find examples you have set! Kornegay's behavior during the season was absolutely childish! Never did he congratulate the coaches or the girls for all of their successes...WOBM Champs..State Champs..TOC Champs..1000 and 2000 point scores..2 First Team All-State players and the many many accomplishments of Michaela Mabrey...and not one word from Kornegay,,,a true role model..huh !! And what has the school itself done to recognize these girls...NOTHING! You, Geri Margin and Ron Kornegay should be embarrassed and ashamed!
Daryl Day May 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
concerned parent: your right on the money. I saw almost forty games and could not agree with you more. Thanks for posting this account of what went on.
JACK MCCUE May 14, 2012 at 04:03 AM
manasquans basketball program as been struggling for years and finally achieves great success do to these players and coaches--from what i observed at the games the players and coaches did a fine job and it is the administrators that should be replaced- at this level parental politics should not have been considered

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