Camden Catholic football coach fired, cites racism

CAMDEN, N.J. (WPVI) -- The Camden Catholic High School football team has had one of the winningest records in all of South Jersey over the last several seasons.

Head Coach Nick Strom took over in 2014 and they've been a juggernaut ever since, 34-2 against South Jersey opponents.

But now Strom, who is a history teacher at the school as well as the golf coach, has been told his teaching contract will not be renewed.

Strom is alleging racism in published reports.

He says since his first season, the school president has asked him to "get more white players on the field because they would connect with the alumni base." The team is now about one-half minority.

Strom says there have also been occasions when he was asked whether a student came from "a single or double parent household."

Terence Ward, who had two sons on the football team, withdrew them Tuesday from Camden Catholic.

"With all the racism that's been going on, and all that has transpired, all they've endured already, for me I'm a father first and I have to worry about their safety," he said.

Ward says he has no doubt that Strom's allegations are true.

"Coach Strom is a mentor to all these kids," said Ward. "He's their coach. Yes, he's hard, he's tough, but guess what - the kids respect him, they love him. We love him as parents."

After issuing a statement denying the Strom allegations, and saying Strom violated rules including the dress code, Principal Mary Whipky would not return phone calls from Action News Tuesday.

The local archdiocese said they will review the situation: "the Diocese of Camden and the school's office take very seriously all allegations of racism, by their very nature as Catholic, our schools are expected to be welcoming and nurturing to all students."

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