Former longtime Hunterdon Central High School wrestling coach Steve Gibble should still be behind the Red Devils’ bench.
So says Gibble’s attorney Steve Farsiou. Farsiou said he’s in the process of putting together a petition for the court he hopes will lead to a hearing sometime in June before the Office of Administrative Law in Trenton. The Hunterdon Central High School Board of Education voted 8-1 at an October meeting to suspend Gibble with pay.
Gibble was also not rehired as a lacrosse and football assistant. The Hunterdon Central Board of Education hasn’t commented on why Gibble was dismissed, citing its personnel policy. But Farsiou said the Board’s decision stemmed from a conversation between Gibble and a student athlete that was entering the ninth grade at Central at the Rutgers University summer wrestling camp.
Gibble who was approved earlier in the year as head wrestling coach and assistant football coach, will be paid $9,942 for being wrestling coach and $8,111 as an assistant football coach. He was also not rehired as an assistant lacrosse coach earlier this year. He continues to teach at the school.
He had been head wrestling coach of the Red Devils for 22 years.
Farsiou said Gibble “absolutely” didn’t violate the HIB (harassment, intimidation and bullying) policy.
“The school wanted him out,” said Farsiou. “It’s such a non-issue. As much as Steve loves Hunterdon Central, if he doesn’t fight this case, it’ll open up a Pandora’s box for other coaches to face the same kind of issue. It’s important to stand up and fight this.”
Farsiou said he wanted to “get the truth to come out” about what happened.
“It takes a toll on your reputation,” said Farsiou. “We are going to go full throttle to vindicate Steve and we are going to be aggressive about it. Our position is that he should be the wrestling coach right now.
“It’s very painful to be accused of being a bully when you’re aren’t,” added Farsiou. “Steve has taken kids into his home, helped so many kids. He was trying to make a kid (at the Rutgers camp) comfortable, to make him feel like he was part of the team.”
Several wrestlers and parents spoke in defense of Gibble at the October meeting before the Board voted.
“The support has been overwhelming for him. I’ve gotten calls from guys who lived in five different states, not just wrestlers, but athletes in other sports,” said Farsiou. “What happened here shouldn’t have happened.”
The Red Devils went 348-119 overall under Gibble, winning four Skyland Conference titles and 11 of the program’s 19 sectional championships. Gibble-coached teams also reached the NJSIAA Group IV final seven times — 1993, ‘94, ‘95, ‘99, 2000, 2003 and 2010. Central went 19-6 in the 2013-14 season, dropping a 55-9 decision in the North 2 Group IV final to state champ Phillipsburg. Central beat Phillipsburg for the North 2 Group IV title in 2012-13.
Staff Writer Harry Frezza; email@example.com