Whether or not Joe DiCanio was either fired or resigned last week as Fenwick High School’s head football coach just three games into the 2011 season, is being left to interpretation. No one is saying for sure.
DiCanio declined to elaborate on the departure that became effective Sept. 14, but he was apparently forced out of the position. “I was asked to resign, and that’s all I can say.”
Over the summer, rumors had spread that this was likely DiCanio’s final season as head coach, though he would not confirm or deny those rumors at the time.
All inquiries regarding DiCanio’s departure, including those directed at Fenwick’s first-year Athletic Director Scott Thies, were re-routed to Jen Butler, the school’s communications director.
“It’s a personnel thing and there’s a confidentiality issue involved, so we are not going to comment on the specifics of why he has been replaced,” said Butler when asked if the departure stemmed from an altercation that took place between DiCanio and defensive coordinator Mike Mahoney in front of players at halftime and following the Friars’ 42-0 loss to St. Rita on Sept. 9.
Thies, a 1999 graduate of Fenwick, took over head coaching duties. He will perform double duty for at least the remainder of the 2011 season.
“At the end of the season things will be evaluated, but the school will not be searching for a new head coach this season,” said Butler.
Butler added that it’s possible Thies may remain the head coach permanently.
Thies, a former Division III collegiate football player, has eight years of coaching experience at Fenwick – two years as the head freshman coach and six as an assistant varsity football coach. Thies was not willing to discuss DiCanio’s departure, but said he’s focused on moving the program forward.
“There’s a history and a tradition of excellence inside and outside the classroom at Fenwick, and I hope to continue that tradition,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of that with the football program.”
Thies, who coached the freshman squad to a 7-2 record his first year and 6-3 last year, was a starting running back for the Friars under Paul Connor in 1999, when the team went 8-3. In his debut as coach against Bishop McNamara on Saturday night, the Friars lost 21-13 (see story, above).
“My football experience at Fenwick was second to none, and it’s one of the things that drew me back to the school after college,” he said.
“We are confident that Scott will do a great job with the program and build upon the strong tradition that coaches before him have established,” said Fenwick Principal Peter Groom through a press release issued by the school.
Thies would not confirm last week if any other coaches under DiCanio were let go or resigned from the program, but Mahoney confirmed on Thursday that he is no longer a volunteer coach in the program. Mahoney, DiCanio’s defensive coordinator for the last two seasons, said he received a call from Thies last Saturday informing him his services were no longer needed.
“I wish those kids well,” said Mahoney, who would not comment any further on DiCanio’s departure.
Andy Miller, who has coached Fenwick’s running backs and special teams personnel for the last five years, resigned following Mahoney being let go by the school.
“I’m personally appreciative of everything Joe DiCanio did for me, and I wish him the best in the future,” said Miller.