A familiar face will be missing from the gym when the Trinity High School basketball team begins practice next week.
Trinity head coach Ed Stritzel has been suspended for 30 days, from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30, for a recruiting violation in what the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) referred to as a self-imposed punishment in press release issued on Oct. 23.
During the month-long suspension, Stritzel is not allowed to have any contact with his team and cannot be a part of practices or games.
Trinity and Stritzel agreed to the suspension in what appears to be a sort of plea bargain.
Stritzel has also been put on probation by the IHSA.
The IHSA began investigating Stritzel earlier this year after a complaint was filed by the parents of former player who graduated in 2015.
Mike and Colleen Dillon filed a lawsuit against Stritzel and Trinity claiming, among other things, that they were promised financial aid if their daughter attended Trinity. In addition, they alleged that for two years Trinity did not come up with a promised financial aid package.
The IHSA interviewed other parents who had contact with Trinity and Stritzel. Issues other than recruiting were raised, such as Stritzel allegedly holding mandatory offseason basketball practices, which would be a violation of IHSA rules.
In the fall of 2010, Stritzel met with Colleen and Michael Dillon at a restaurant in Rosemont when their daughter was an eighth grader. According to the Dillons’ lawsuit, Stritzel again met with the parents and their daughter at the Dillon home in violation of IHSA rules, which state coaches can only meet with prospective players on school grounds.
“Malicious or not, the actions by Coach Stritzel were clearly a violation of IHSA by laws,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman in the press release. “The sanctions imposed by the school send a strong message about the importance to adhering to IHSA by-laws, and I believe there was a sincere commitment by the school administration to take steps to educate coaches to prevent future missteps.”
Stritzel and Trinity president Sister Michelle Germanson did not return phone calls from the Wednesday Journal asking for comment. Trinity’s chief financial officer, Mary Jill Watts, sent a terse one-sentence comment by email.
“Trinity is pleased to have been able to work with the IHSA to promptly resolve the regulatory matter,” Watts said in the email.
However, Stritzel said a lot more about the situation in an email to Trinity basketball parents and alumni, which was obtained by the Wednesday Journal, earlier this month.
In the email Stritzel blasted the parents and said the Dillons pursued him and wanted their daughter to attend Trinity.
Both Colleen Dillon and her mother are Trinity alumnae.
Stritzel said that after repeated requests through an AAU coach he agreed to meet with the Dillons.
“We met for about 20 minutes to a half an hour,” Stritzel wrote. “It was casual as I never met them before and we talked in general about Trinity and who I was as a person.”
Stritzel said that he offered the Dillons nothing.
“I want to be clear, nothing was offered and nothing was promised to the family!” Stritzel wrote. “The family enrolled at Trinity and unfortunately they have been trouble ever since.”
In the email, Stritzel claims that the IHSA cleared Trinity of the most serious charges but wanted Trinity to impose a punishment on him because he violated the rule of meeting a prospective student off campus.
“I am struggling mightily in trying to do the right thing for kids but also uphold my integrity which is impeccable,” Stritzel wrote more than two weeks before the official suspension was handed down. “Against my attorneys and close friends advise (sic), I have decided to accept a suspension to start the season. It makes me ill to accept this as I have done nothing wrong.”
Hickman said that the Dillons’ lawsuit didn’t influence the IHSA’s investigation.
“The lawsuit had no bearing on how we conducted our investigation,” Hickman said in the press release. “However, we will monitor those proceedings in the event they bring to light any additional information that needs to be vetted by our office.”