CAMDEN COUNTY, NJ (WTXF) - A popular teacher and coach at a school in Camden County was fired. He claims it's all over the race of students he was recruiting for the school's football. The school says that's not the case.
Now, the coach is breaking his silence and talking only to FOX 29
"Is asking about the racial make up of your football team an inherently racist approach?" FOX 29's Jeff Cole asked. Former football coach Nicholas Strom replied, "Yes."
Strom—the 30-year-old former football coach at Camden Catholic High—says the school's president Mary Whipkey wanted more white players.
He says questions about the race of freshman recruits began his first year as a coach in 2014.
"Is he white? Is he black? Sometimes conversations would be 1 or 2 parent households?" Strom said. "We have to relate to alumni a little better with players on the field."
Strom, who was a New Jersey high school standout quarterback who played division 3 college football, has a record of 34 wins and 6 loses in 4 seasons.
He says he evaluated players based on character, ability and grades, but that wasn't the standard set by top school administrators.
"When she said we need to relate more to alumni what did she mean?" Cole asked. Strom replied, "She wanted more white players on the team to relate to the alumni."
In a detailed statement, Camden Catholic denies what it calls "hateful allegations" and claims. "Mr. Strom is peddling complete falsehoods to drive a wedge in this community to advance his own agenda."
School president Mary Whipkey has repeatedly declined FOX 29's request for an interview.
"I think they had to find reasons to get rid of me as a teacher in order to get rid of me as a football coach," Strom said.
Strom sat down with FOX 29 in his lawyer's office Tuesday morning a little over a week after the school told him he wasn't coming back next year.
In a letter it claimed, Strom had violated dress code, been disrespectful to the school's president and left class to speak to a college football coach.
Strom says he once wore a zip-up football shirt and sneakers, denies the disrespect and was late for class he says by one minute.
"Should the president of Camden Catholic be let go? Cole asked. Strom replied, "I don't want to comment on that, Jeff."
Camden Catholic writes 40 percent of its students are of color, but reports some have expressed "pain" over race relations at the school. It writes racism is a "sin" and is working to demonstrate its belief in inclusion.