January 25, 2001

Football Coaches Shown the Door

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In one of his first official tasks as head coach of the football team, Tim Pendergast fired assistant coaches Greg Gigantino and Dave Arnsparger this past weekend.

Gigantino was the defensive coordinator while Arnsparger was the defensive backs coach.

Other coaches, including offensive line coach Ron Prince, who is now at Virginia, accepted posts elsewhere before the axe fell.

After being officially hired last Friday, Pendergast did not hesitate in making a decision about the old coaching staff, which had been left in the lurch when former head man Pete Mangurian departed for the Atlanta Falcons.

According to Gigantino, Pendergast invited him to his office at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The meeting did not last long however — no more than five or eight minutes, Gigantino recollects.

“He just said he had other guys in mind and he didn’t have a position for me,” Gigantino said. “Obviously, it did come very quickly.”

Although Pendergast did mention that he would consider retaining members of the old staff at a press conference last Friday, Arnsparger doubted that the new coach had carried through with that statement.

When asked whether or not he believed that Pendergast had spent adequate time in evaluating the staff’s coaching abilities, Arnsparger didn’t have to search for words.

“No,” he emphatically remarked.

Before searching for a coach outside the University, the athletic administration offered Mangurian’s assistants the opportunity to throw their names in the hat for the head coaching position.

“We were told that as a staff, there was a blank slate and that if anyone was interested in the job, they should see the athletic [department],” Gigantino explained.

Both Gigantino and defensive line coach Pete DeStefano nominated themselves, with Gigantino even telling the department that if he didn’t get the job he believed he would eventually be fired by the new coach.

Pete Noyes, Director of Football Operations, refused to comment.

The players must now cope with the loss of the coaches while preparing for a new season and adjusting to a new staff.

“I’ve invested three years in some of these guys,” Gigantino said, “and there’s a very big emotional tie. It’s not an easy time for them or me.”

Arnsparger described how players filtered in and out of his office while he has emptying it on Monday.

“There’d be a bunch of hugs and tears,” he said. “We went through a lot with these guys.

“It’s been great. I’ve been associated with some great people.”

With their tenures at Cornell now terminated, the outgoing coaches have to negotiate their severance packages and hunt for new jobs.

Said Gigantino, “I would like to hope that Cornell does the right thing for the coaches who were fired.”

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj