1. Archive

Cougars assistant removed

A Countryside High volunteer was removed as an assistant wrestling coach and banned from the campus and team after Pinellas County investigators concluded he verbally and physically abused a student.

Glenn Goodman, 41, was barred from the Countryside campus by school officials after 15 years as a coach there. He learned of the decision Jan. 20 in a letter sent to him by former Countryside principal Julie Janssen, now principal at St. Petersburg.

"You did, in fact, act inappropriately in your role as a member of the Countryside coaching staff," Janssen wrote. In one of her final acts at Countryside, Janssen informed Goodman that she had issued a trespass warning against him, banning him from the campus and that school's students. "You may not interact with Countryside High School students at any Pinellas County School Board event," she wrote.

A synopsis of the six-week investigation, completed Tuesday, said a School Board investigator found evidence supporting the allegations of a mother whose son, a former Countryside wrestler, was expelled from school because of an incident during a wrestling tournament, the report said.

During the tournament, Goodman discovered alcohol in the bookbag of the student, whose name the Times is withholding because of his age.

The wrestler's mother, who is trying to enroll her son in another public school, does not deny he violated school rules, but accused Goodman of abusing her son after the discovery, the report said.

Goodman denies the allegations. "I want to convey that I did nothing wrong," he said. "I've done nothing but try and help this young man."

This is the latest blow to the Countryside program rocked by the announced retirement of 24-year coach Dave Frayer and eligibility and recruiting questions being investigated by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

"My retirement is not linked to that," Frayer said. "I thought about retiring a long time before any of this happened."

The lastest controversy started Dec. 6 during a tournament at Seminole High, according to a report by Rick Stelljes with the school district's Office of Professional Standards.

The wrestler involved went with a teammate to a convenience store across the street from the Seminole campus and returned with alcoholic beverages in his backpack, the report said.

After finding the alcohol, the report said, Goodman used profanity while berating the student in front of other team members and struck him in the back of the head and pushed another. Goodman also told the student and teammate to find their way home. They got rides from wrestlers' parents.

"I can't comment on what happened between Glenn and the student because I did not witness it," said Frayer, who indicated he was in the gym during a match at the time. "All I can say is there was alcohol involved and we took the appropriate action. The other stuff came from a vindictive lady who is out to tarnish the program and those involved."

The mother of the student said she did not file a police report after the incident and handed the case over to Stelljes.

Goodman's attorney, Todd Foster, conducted an investigation and said the allegations are unfounded.

"I didn't find there was any inappropriate conduct whatsoever," Foster said. "I think you have to question the source."

Goodman said he would not pursue legal action and will continue to coach clinics and give private lessons. Though he is an unpaid assistant, Goodman received $12,000 last year for private coaching and his work with the BADKAT wrestling club, run by Frayer.

"I've known Glenn a long time, and he's played a significant role in helping my sons get into Harvard," said Pete DeNunzio, whose youngest son, Dominic, is a senior wrestler at Countryside. "I've always trusted him with my kids and I think some things were taken out of context."

This is the third time a Countryside athletic team has been in trouble the past two years. This month, the girls soccer team had to forfeit its games up to that point for using an ineligible player. The boys basketball team forfeited all of its games from last season because of an ineligible player.

"It's very alarming what's going on," Janssen said. "There are a lot of things that need to be addressed within the athletic program."