Reassigned New York football coach calls for protests to end; new allegation surfaces

NEW ROCHELLE, Westchester County (WABC) -- The reassigned head coach of the New Rochelle High School football team is asking his supporters to refrain from further walkouts and protests, this as news surfaces of a new decades-old allegation being investigated by police.

The No. 2 ranked Huguenots won their second playoff game this past weekend without longtime coach Louis DiRienzo, mounting a comeback to defeat Shenendehowa 24-17 in the Class AA state semifinals.

DiRienzo met with district officials Monday to discuss the incident, which allegedly involved a student who is DiRienzo's relative and who was impaired in some way at school.

DiRienzo contacted that person's father, the parents say, and allowed them to leave the school rather than face discipline -- an apparent violation of school protocol.

District officials would not comment on the circumstances of the investigation, with parents reporting the unconfirmed details to Eyewitness News.

After the meeting, DiRienzo issued the following statement:

"During the course of my interview on Monday which I attended along with my attorney and (New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees) representatives, I came to understand the Board's and Superintendent's concerns. Please know that although I appreciate the kind words and support from many in New Rochelle, I ask that you refrain from any continued public demonstrations and focus on our team who is attempting to do something historic for the community on Sunday. I accept the continuing reassignment and recognize that I cannot return to the sidelines while we try to work toward a resolution. I do not want this ongoing matter to serve as a distraction to our outstanding football team and coaches, all of whom I am extremely proud of. I look forward to the team and coaches representing New Rochelle High School and the New Rochelle community in the New York State Championship football game."

The statement comes as a new allegation is being levied against DiRienzo, apparently dating back to the 1980s.

Yonkers police say a woman came forward last week alleging unlawful contact involving DiRienzo when she was a high school student. DiRienzo was a teacher in Yonkers at the time.

Further details were not revealed, but the Yonkers Police Department released the following statement:

"Last week the Yonkers Police initiated an investigation into allegations brought forward by a former local high school student, alleging unlawful contact between the student and a former coach / teacher; the incidents are alleged to have occurred in the late 1980's. Due to the nature of the allegations and the amount of time elapsed, any potential criminal charges would not be eligible for prosecution. The Yonkers Police Department has a responsibility to our constituents and all involved parties to investigate these allegations and afford due process and impartiality to the same; as such, no further information will be released at this time."

The head of the New Rochelle High School Football Parent Association says the allegation is an attempt to further tarnish DiRienzo's reputation.

"He did not do it, I believe him," Gina Ruggiero said. "I stand behind him, and so does this community."

Former NFL star Ray Rice also added his support.

"I'm not here to say true or false," he said. "I'm here standing with Coach D 100 percent no matter what. That will never change."

DiRienzo's reassignment has drawn outrage from parents and students who continue to show support for him.

The decision has been met with major backlash from players, students and the football parents association, and it has included protests and walkouts.

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