By James Kay
Gene Nudo is no longer the varsity head football coach at Fenwick High School. A spokesman for the school confirmed on Nov. 1 that Nudo has stepped down after he allowed convicted sex offender Frank Battaglia to assist him during the 2016 season.
The school sent this statement to Wednesday Journal on Nov. 1:
"Traditionally, Fenwick High School does not comment on personnel matters. However, circumstances involving the termination of head football coach Gene Nudo's tenure call for some clarity.
"Fenwick has strict protocols in place that must be followed before anyone can serve as a coach or volunteer coach. These protocols require that any employee, teacher, coach or volunteer, who is involved with students in any capacity must undergo a background check and participate in Virtus training, among other things. Earlier this week, Fenwick received information that in 2016 Coach Nudo allowed someone whom he had coached with in the past to attend a couple of football practices and to assist Coach Nudo on the sidelines during some games at the end of the season. When this was confirmed by the school and was brought to Coach Nudo's attention, he acknowledged that he did not alert Fenwick that he was doing this and did not follow Fenwick's important policies and procedures. At that time, Coach Nudo agreed to step down immediately.
"Fenwick has no evidence of any wrongdoing by the person Coach Nudo brought in while he was at Fenwick nor any evidence of any other violation of Fenwick's rules by Coach Nudo.
"Fenwick thanks Coach Nudo for his years of service and many contributions to the school. Both Fenwick and Coach Nudo have the utmost confidence in the assistant football coaches to lead the team going forward."
Wednesday Journal learned that the coach the school referred to in its statement is Battaglia, who recently was taken off the staff of Lake Park High School's football team after the school found out he pled guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse in 1992. This occurred at Driscoll High School where Nudo was the head coach from 1989-1991.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Debra Sciortino, the victim of the 1992 case, was 14 years old and a student at Driscoll when the abuse took place. Her brothers were on Driscoll's football team where Battaglia served as an assistant coach.
Lake Park's football program is under investigation after it failed to check the criminal background of Battaglia, who was a volunteer coach. In addition, the IHSA states, "Every person working with member IHSA high school student/athletes must be certified. This includes non-paid volunteers, part-time, etc." IHSA By-law 2.070, section F, states, "Persons who stop teaching and do not possess a valid/current Illinois PEL, are not eligible to coach in Illinois without coaching certification."
When Wednesday Journal reached out to Nudo about the situation, he declined to comment.
Nudo compiled a 102-42-1 record during his tenure as Fenwick's head coach.
In addition to being scrubbed from the football team's web page, Nudo is also no longer listed as a member of the Fenwick faculty on the school's website.
In their first game without Nudo, the Friars defeated Walter Payton High School 21-17 in the first round of the IHSA 5A playoffs. Defensive coordinator Titcus Pettigrew has been named interim head coach.
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