LEEDS – Varsity boys’ basketball coach Mike Remillard was fired for inappropriate conduct at halftime of a Jan. 23 home game against Mt. Ararat, Leavitt Area High School Principal Patrick Hartnett said in a statement Thursday.

Remillard, who is not otherwise employed by SAD 52, was fired Wednesday with three games left in the regular season. His termination came one day after Remillard alleged he was assaulted by the father of a varsity player after Leavitt’s win at Morse High School in Bath.

But on Thursday, Hartnett said in a statement that the firing had nothing to do with the alleged attack.

Hartnett wrote in the statement, which was read by SAD 52 Superintendent Thomas J. Hanson during Thursday night’s regularly scheduled school board meeting, that he and Athletic Director Doug Conn met with Remillard on Wednesday to inquire about the alleged incident at Morse and “to ask about other information that had come to my attention about the coach’s conduct with his players.”

“I had been told that during halftime, Mr. Remillard asked the players if they knew what tonight’s game was all about,” Hartnett wrote in the statement. “He stated that tonight’s game was about who had the biggest (male genitalia) in town. He then required his players to all stand up and put their hands down their pants and check their manhood. One player did not, and he was singled out.”

“In asking Mr. Remillard to characterize the halftime scenario, he stated he did not remember exactly what he said but he confirmed he said something like that and did in fact have his players stand and put their hands down their pants to grasp their private parts. I asked further if he thought that was an appropriate motivational tactic. He replied that ‘We won.’ It was at this point that I told him I could no longer support him as the coach for our team and relived (sic) him of his duties, without terminating his pay.”

Hartnett added in the statement that both junior varsity coach Christian Gurney and freshman coach Nate Driscoll confirmed the halftime incident was “unacceptable.”

Reached for comment by the Sun Journal on Thursday night, Remillard confirmed he admitted the incident to school officials when he met with them Wednesday.

“Yes, I owned up to everything,” said Remillard, who refers to controversial Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight as his role model.

He said having his players “check their manhood” is “normal locker room banter from Fort Kent, Maine, to San Diego, California.”

“Was that tactic appropriate? No. And I’m paying the price for it,” he added. “I can pay that price because I accept my responsibility, and I’m being accountable.”

Hartnett said Wednesday’s meeting was the third that school officials have had with Remillard to discuss inappropriate comments he made to his players.

“Each time, we reiterated the importance of appropriate discourse between coach and team,” he said in the statement.

After reading the statement, Hanson added he supported Hartnett’s handling of the matter “completely.” He declined further comment.

Remillard maintained he had met with school officials only twice this year, regarding a separate incident involving a player who had lost a game jersey. He also denied responding “We won” when asked by Hartnett if he had used a proper motivational tactic.

“What I told him was, the tactic worked,” Remillard said. “We played like the young men that we were or could be. That’s what I said. I never said, ‘Well, we won.'”

Remillard said the coaching methods he’s used this year are the same he has used throughout his nearly four-year tenure as varsity coach.

“They knew when they first hired me that some methods that coaches use are somewhat different,” he said. “I’m not perfect. I try to do things to get my kids motivated. Obviously, this one backfired in my face.”

The school board went into a 20-minute executive session immediately after opening the meeting to consult with the school district’s attorney, Bryan Dench.

Dench’s law firm also represents the Sun Journal.

School officials initially declined comment on the matter Wednesday, citing district policy regarding personnel matters. Hartnett wrote that he was compelled to respond Thursday because of the publicity surrounding Remillard’s firing. He added that the alleged incident at Morse, in which Remillard says he was shoved by the parent in the visitors’ locker room following Tuesday night’s game, had nothing to do with his firing.

“The alleged incident regarding a confrontation between the coach and a parent…is, if it took place, both unfortunate and inappropriate,” Hartnett wrote. “I do not condone aggressive confrontations in any case, but in particular not within the athletic context between parent and coach.”

“…if it took place, Mr. Remillard should pursue the proper recourse,” he wrote later in the statement. “We have encouraged him to do so.”

A Bath police officer on duty at the game, who responded to a report of the disturbance, is still investigating the incident. Remillard reiterated Thursday night that he plans to press charges against the parent.

Thursday’s meeting drew only a dozen people, including school administrators and staff. Two supporters of Remillard, Brody and Kim Pettengill of Leeds, questioned the timing of the coach’s firing after hearing Hartnett’s statement.

“It’s funny that all of a sudden after this incident down to Bath this comes about right now,” Brody Pettengill said. He has a son who played for Remillard on the varsity squad two years ago.

“The Mt. Ararat game was over a week ago,” Kim Pettengill added. “Why (fire him) now? Why not right after the Mt. Ararat game. Why did it take this long. (The timing is) very convenient.”

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