Update: Strom has been fired.
CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Camden Catholic High School football coach Nick Strom says he thinks officials are trying to force him out of his job because he has too many black players on his team.
The stunning allegation comes after school President Mary Whipkey and Principal Heather Crisci told him Friday afternoon that his contract as a history teacher would not be renewed for next year. The officials also asked Strom to resign from his posts as head football and golf coach.
Officials from Camden Catholic and the Diocese of Camden did not return calls seeking comment Monday.
“I think this from me not conforming with their viewpoints on what they want the student body and the football team to look like,” Strom alleged. “I’ve tried to build this program into one that’s based on kids being of ability, high character and high grades.
“From day one, the administration told me they did not approve of the ratio of black to white students.”
Strom estimated the topic of race came up “10 to 20 times” with Whipkey since his hire as football coach in 2013.
“When I’d have a list of potential freshmen, the first question I’d be asked is if they were white or black,” he said. “I was confused about why the question was, ‘How can we get more white players in the program or on the field?’”
About half of the team’s players are minorities, Strom said.
The embattled coach and teacher also said there were occasions when he was asked whether a student came from a single- or double-parent household.
“I always felt like I could be above it,” said Strom, who’s lost only two games in South Jersey over four years. “I don’t think as coaches we get into that. You’re trying to improve your team and trying to help kids be a part of society to make a difference in their lives.”