A former Bishop McCort Catholic junior high wrestling coach has submitted a two-page letter to the PIAA District 6 Committee with “new allegations” against the Crimson Crushers athletic program, The Tribune-Democrat has learned.
Allen Andrews, who received a one-year ban from coaching when the Bishop McCort athletic program was placed on probation in November, wrote the letter, which was received by District 6 Committee Chairman David Crumrine.
In the letter Andrews directed allegations of recruiting against the Bishop McCort Catholic football program, specifically naming head coach Brian Basile; assistant football coach Tom Smith, who also is a wrestling coach and Principal at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy; and Bishop McCort Catholic Principal Tom Fleming, who also serves as an assistant football coach.
“We’re giving Bishop McCort a chance to respond,” District 6 Chairman Crumrine said when reached on Wednesday. “Really that’s where we are right now. We want to hear their side of it.”
When asked when he hoped to receive the school’s response, Crumrine said, “as soon as possible.”
Fleming said as of Wednesday afternoon he had not received or read the letter.
“I heard there was one and it was sent to District 6 and they would proceed,” Fleming said. “I was at the (March 6) hearing where Allen (Andrews) was trying to get a do-over for his year-long suspension. He was bringing up other allegations. The board said they weren’t there to talk about that then, but if he wanted to put it in writing, he could do that.
“I have not been asked for my side yet,” Fleming added. “Maybe it’s being sent in the mail, but I have not heard anything from Dr. Crumrine.”
Bishop McCort was placed on probation after Forest Hills and Westmont Hilltop high school administrators lodged complaints against the program for allegations of recruiting and a report of a student from another school illegally practicing at the Crimson Crushers' wrestling facility on Osborne Street.
The District 6 Committee announced in November that Bishop McCort’s athletic program was placed on probation for one year and the wrestling program for two years. Andrews, a junior high coach, was banned for one year.
At the time, Fleming said, “We had a junior high coach who reached out to a parent of elementary- and middle school-age students about attending our feeder system, Divine Mercy. It was initiated by the coach and was sent by a text message. He owned it and understands that that wasn’t the proper way to get the word out about opportunities in our system. Regrettably, he made a mistake, and we’ll deal with it and move on.”
In his letter to the District 6 Committee, Andrews alleges that Basile took a student from another school for a visit at Bishop McCort after a workout session at the Crimson Crushers’ wrestling center.
Andrews also alleged that Smith took a student and the student’s father on an “illegal visit/tour of Bishop McCort school one day after a workout session at the Bishop McCort Wrestling Center.”
Smith said the visit was “legal.”
“We followed PIAA rules to a T,” Smith said. “I feel we did not violate PIAA rules in any shape or form regarding the allegations by Mr. Andrews, whom I respect.
“Mr. Andrews is a good guy,” Smith continued. “I don’t think he knows all of the circumstances about the young man given the tour. It was perfectly legal and scheduled by his family.”
Andrews also wrote about the hiring process for a STEM Program teacher and potential wrestling coach at Divine Mercy.
Andrews said in the letter that he had a meeting with Fleming, Smith, Athletic Director Steve Cotchen and attorney William Pentecost in February.
“I asked them if they were going to self-report to PIAA, if not, I would report the violations at the March 6, 2018, meeting with the District 6 Committee,” Andrews’ letter stated.
Andrews also alleged in the letter that Bishop McCort’s open practice sessions for wrestlers from multiple counties who participate in Greco-Roman, folk style and freestyle competition were used by coaches to “see what big guys they could try to influence to come to McCort for football.”
Basile responded: “Without me seeing the letter, I really don’t want to say anything. We want to follow all the guidelines of the PIAA and Bishop McCort’s rules to the fullest. Anything outside those rules is not something we want to do.”
When reached Wednesday, Andrews said, “I don’t know where it’s headed. I stand by everything I put in the letter. I just think the letter is self-explanatory.
“Basically I think the administration at Bishop McCort needs to be up and up on everything,” he added. “That is my opinion. I stand by what I have in the letter 100 percent.”