After nine years leading the boys' basketball program at Niagara Falls (N.Y.) High School, coach Sal Constantino announced that he’d be resigning his position. His reason? Community harassment.
The Niagara Gazette reports that Constantino was confronted in public by members of the community, sometimes in the presence of his son. One parent, after their child was cut from the team, allegedly said they hoped that Constantino’s son would commit suicide.
“I kind of had to take a look at the big picture of everything,” Constantino told the Gazette. “I couldn’t bring my son to games.”
During his tenure, Constantino amassed an impressive record, reaching eight Section VI Class AA championships and winning five of those. His team won the conference title six times, and this year reached the state semifinals.
"Even when we won, the negative people would be on me about not winning by enough," Constantino told TV station WKBW.
School superintendent Mark Laurrie said Constantino's decision to resign marked a sad day for the students he coached, and that the individuals who harassed him had the wrong perspective on high school sports.
"I wish they were as passionate about test scores and graduation rates as they are about high school sports," Laurrie told WKBW.
“If I could coach in an empty gym, I’d coach these kids until the day I die,” Constantino said. “For whatever I’ve done for them, they’ve done for me that much more.”
Athletic director Joe Contento praised Constantino, writing in an email “Sal Constantino has been working with the youth of Niagara Falls for many years, and has made a lasting impact on our student-athletes.”
Contento said the process of replacing the coach would begin shortly. He aims to recommend a candidate to the Board of Education by the end of May. Laurrie said that Constantino's treatment by fans could ward good coaches away from taking the job, however.
"People love the game, whatever sport it is, but do you want to put up with all of the stuff outside of it?" pondered Constantino.