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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Strange Events Surrounding Firing of AMU Basketball Coach

Things have been quiet in Ave Maria Land recently, so here is a little news to distract you from the raging debates regarding politics and the presidential election. AveWatch first reported a couple of days ago that Ave Maria University's basketball coach had strangely left AMU one month before the season started. AveWatch has now linked to a Naples News article reporting that the coach was fired for "the use of profanity in a scrimmage." The players, parents, and the coach himself - no one has been given any more of the details or reasons for the bizarre termination. From the Naples News:
[Coach] Benitez said his understanding was a player's parent complained about his profanity to Ave Maria founder and chancellor Tom Monaghan. Benitez asked for more details about the complaint, but wasn't given any. He was asked to resign but he refused.

"I was floored," Benitez said outside of a team meeting he held with his former players at Ave Maria on Tuesday night. "I'm still floored. I'm still shocked."

Ave Maria Athletic Director Brian Scanlan confirmed Benitez was no longer with the university, but declined further comment. Scanlan referred all questions to a university spokesman, who declined comment.
A wild goose chase of going from one admin to another for an answer, with no success. Looks like the lack of communication and lack of transparency that us Ave Maria veterans have experienced many times before.
Several players said in an interview the team has been in limbo since last Tuesday when Scanlan and Sports Information Director Melissa Chaplin called a meeting to say Benitez had been terminated. They said they weren't given a reason and were told not to speak with Benitez about it. Scanlan and Chaplin also told them that if they talked to the media their scholarships would be revoked.
And financial threats in order to prevent Ave Maria people from talking? That sounds familiar too.
After last Tuesday's meeting, the team appealed to Monaghan and President Nick Healy. Monaghan told them it was Scanlan's decision, even though Scanlan told the team the decision came from the "university council" that they said Monaghan heads. Benitez confirmed the decision was made by the university council, which he said consists of Monaghan, Healy, Chief Financial Officer Paul Roney, Senior Vice President of Administration Jack Sites and Carole Carpenter, vice president for university relations.
It looks like Monaghan is trying to shift the blame for the firing by throwing Scanlan under the bus. There is no question Monaghan was responsible for the firing, as Scanlan indicated when he said that the decision came from the "university council." (What is the university council? Is that like a Board of Governors? Does AMU have a Board of Governors too?)
Freddie Bonilla, the father of freshman Mike Bonilla, said in an interview that he spoke to Scanlan in the past week. Scanlan told him an incident where Benitez cursed at a player and the player's parents' complaint was behind Benitez's dismissal. Bonilla said he sent a letter to university officials, including Monaghan, Healy and Scanlan, protesting Benitez's treatment.

"It didn't call for the man to lose his job," Bonilla said. "Maybe reprimanded, maybe fined or something. There had to be another agenda.

"They are very vengeful," Bonilla added. "They are very negative. I'm not talking about everybody there, I'm talking about the administration."

"This is one of the main reasons Catholic people have a bad reputation," [Coach] Benitez said. "They don't abide by the rules in the bible."
Coach Benitez, join the club. You are welcome to attend our support group for recovering Ave Maria victims, regularly meeting right here at Fumare.

UPDATE: AveWatch has an update. The Naples News is reporting that Coach Benitez says that AMU is lying about whether AMU warned Coach Benitez about his language.