(Host) Rich Alercio – who moved to Rutland two-and-a-half years ago to build Castleton State College’s first-ever football team, has resigned.
As VPR’s Nina Keck reports, the departure comes amid allegations that the coach violated NCAA rules by indirectly helping an athlete receive student loans.
(Keck) David Wolk, president of Castleton State College, says Alercio allegedly put one of his athletes in contact with a part-time college employee, who then co-signed three student loans totaling approximately $22,000.
(Wolk) "No one associated with an athletic program, and especially a coach, should not be arranging for a player to have any special benefit."
(Keck) Wolk says the violation was a one-time incident. But he says it’s significant because, in the event that someone affiliated with the college co-signs a loan, that person could end up paying off the loan, making it a gift.
Wolk says he was notified of the situation by his athletic director in January and launched an internal investigation. He says the college has submitted its report to the NCAA and says the school could face fines and-or sanctions.
(Wolk) "In this case, because we’ve self-reported, we’ve told the truth and we’ve moved ahead, we’re hoping that very few of those, if any, will be imposed."
(Keck) Rich Alercio, who moved to Rutland in 2008 to launch Castleton’s football program, says he and his family are devastated by the situation. He says he was merely trying to help one of his athletes stay in school, and didn’t realize he had broken any collegiate athletic rules.
(Alercio) "The person who cosigned the loan had no association with our football program and it wasn’t until about 3 hours after diving into the NCAA manual did I find the spot where it’s considered an extra benefit."
(Keck) Alercio says two other coaches who knew of the loan were also not aware any rules were being broken.
(Alercio) "Ultimately it’s my fault because it happened under my watch. The problem was trying to do a good deed, which was putting someone who wanted to help with someone who needed the help. In any other walk of life that’s a good deed. But according to the NCAA not a good deed."
(Keck) Alercio says he’s disappointed by the college’s response.
(Alercio) "There’s a part of me that feels like if the college had stuck with me then I think everybody would have understood and forgiven and regardless of the penalties that the NCAA would have put on the college I think we could have overcome them together – so I’m disappointed that the stance was that I was requested to resign. But I understand that if that is what’s best for the college and the football program then that’s exactly what I did and I don’t get to make that decision."
(Keck) David Wolk says he’s sad and disappointed by the situation but says he had to act to ensure the school and his student athletes were not harmed by further fallout.
Wolk says Alercio did a tremendous job launching the school’s football program and he will recommend him for future jobs.
Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Marc Klatt has been promoted to fill the head coach’s job.
For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck