Eddie Stritzel is out as the head varsity basketball coach at Trinity High School. He officially resigned, but indications are that he was forced out the day before he was due to return from a one month suspension.
“My official statement is I handed in my resignation Monday the 30th and the matter with Trinity is resolved,” Stritzel said in a text message to Wednesday Journal.
Trinity Principal Noreen Powers also wasn’t saying much.
“He turned in his resignation and we accepted it,” Powers told the Wednesday Journal Tuesday morning.
Two sources close to the Trinity basketball program have told Wednesday Journal that last week Stritzel had a meeting with Powers, who asked him to take the entire year off from coaching. Stritzel reportedly refused to do that.
Powers declined to comment when asked about that.
“I don’t have any further comment,” Powers said. “He turned in his resignation, we accepted it, and all other matters have been resolved.”
Stritzel was suspended for the month of November as the result of an agreement between Trinity and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) after allegations were made that Stritzel broke IHSA rules by meeting with a prospective player off campus in 2010.
This summer the parents of that player filed a lawsuit against Trinity and Stritzel, claiming that Stritzel offered them financial aid if their daughter enrolled at Trinity and that the financial aid did not materialize until the daughter’s junior year.
In October, Trinity President Sister Michelle Germanson voiced strong support for Stritzel.
But apparently things changed in the last month.
The sources close to the Trinity basketball program said Stritzel did not fully comply with the terms of the suspension and remained involved with the basketball team by email and text message.
The sources say that Walter Healy, the chairman of the Trinity board of directors and the president of Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, became aware of this and pushed Powers to fire Stritzel.
Powers declined to say whether Healy encouraged her to get rid of Stritzel and Healy strongly denied he played any role in Stritzel leaving.
“Absolutely not,” Healy said. “I am the chairman of the board of Trinity High School. We played a role in dealing this situation, but in no way did we force his resignation. We worked with him and he tendered his resignation, and we accepted it yesterday.”
Assistant coaches Jeff Krason, Dave Roselund and Nicole Rivera also are no longer coaching at Trinity. Other published reports say that Krason, Roselund and Rivera resigned in support of Stritzel.
But Powers stated that the assistant coaches were not offered contracts.
The assistant coaches criticized the Trinity administration in an email they sent to Wednesday Journal. The statement accuses Trinity administrators of “isolating” Stritzel and his coaches from basketball families “in an attempt to divide the program against Coach Stritzel.”
The statement from the assistant coaches also accuses the administration of soliciting basketball families to write letters “disparaging” Stritzel and that Trinity’s athletic director “expressed concern about Coach Stritzel returning from suspension” in a conversation with another coach “from a prominent basketball program.”
“While this decision was not made lightly, we can no longer support a school and basketball program that doesn’t support Coach Stritzel,” the coaches wrote.
Interim coach Mike Valente has been named the head coach. Stritzel’s daughter Annie, a talented freshman, is expected to remain on the team.
The assistant coaches noted that Valente will be the sixth head basketball coach at Trinity in the past 14 years.
Stritzel had a record of 236-51 in nine seasons at Trinity.
Trinity began this season as one of the top teams in the Chicago area, ranked No. 2 in preseason ranking by the Chicago Tribune and compiling a 4-1 record in November.
The Blazers are loaded with talent and have numerous Division I college prospects on their team. Stritzel had strong ties to AAU programs and was known as a strong recruiter.