Grand Street football wants principal fired after he suspended head coach

Grand Street football wants principal fired after he suspended head coach
File photo by Robert Cole

These Wolves are out for blood.

The football community at Williamsburg’s Grand Street Campus is demanding the school fire its principal after the administration suspended controversial head football coach Bruce Eugene on Aug. 31.

Players, parents, and coaches rallied on Sept. 2 on the steps of the Department of Education’s Manhattan office in support of Eugene, who led the Wolves to the program’s first Public Schools Athletic League championship last year. The group is still waiting on answers about the suspension and called on city officials to remove school head Dr. William Jusino from his position, claiming he not only has it out for Eugene, but also took money raised for the football program.

“This is not a normal situation,” said assistant coach Christopher Legree, who was also suspended. “This principal uses investigations and Department of Education rules to obscure what’s really going on in that school. He described this coach as a rogue coach. The reality is, he’s been acting like a rogue principal.”

The Grand Street Football Parent Coalition of Student Athletes released a statement last Thursday night, alleging that Jusino “misappropriated $30,000 of New York City Department of Education school funds, along with monies turned over to the school.”

Eugene is not sure why he’s been suspended — he’s tried to speak with Jusino, but has hit a brick wall. And he’s not even sure when his hearing will occur.

“I don’t see why I was suspended, but whoever Dr. Jusino has been talking to, his legal department and everyone else, they must have told him to go ahead and suspend me.”

The Wolves held a scrimmage on Thursday and Eugene, who was sitting in the stands, said his team “looked like crap” — unfocused without the coach on the sidelines. And players won’t compete in their week-one opener against Erasmus Hall without Eugene, many said.

“It was just an uncomfortable feeling being out there without them,” said senior lineman and Boston College commit Joseph Jimenez. “The coaching staff, too, they don’t feel comfortable without their head coach. So it’s kind of like, why play?”

Eugene plans to talk to his players about the decision, unhappy with the thought that they wouldn’t compete, but he understands their feeling, he said.

“When the captain of the ship, something happens to him, you don’t want to sail anymore,” he said. “I’ll sit down and talk with them and try to get them to get out there and realize, that, no matter what happens to me they’ve got to get out there and perform.”

Grand Street parents were scheduled to meet with the school’s administration last Friday, but school honchos cancelled the meeting. That was the final straw for the group.

“This program can’t be shut down, and the kids, they love Bruce,” said Shakeba James, who has three sons in the program. “Bruce is like a father figure. A lot of our kids come from single-parent homes, and so the Grand Street coaches are the only male role models they have.”

Eugene brought his team in for one final huddle after the rally, raising their hands together and yelling “thank you!” on the sidewalk.

It was an emotional moment for players, coaches, and parents — all of whom are still waiting for answers, simply hoping to play football next week.

“My son is travelling two hours from the Whitestone Bridge area to attend Grand Street — not because of Grand Street’s academics,” Chandira Holman-Bey said. “It’s because I’ve seen over the years — what coach Bruce has done.”

The school did not respond to a request for comment.

Battlin’ for Bruce: Suspended Grand Street Campus football coach Bruce Eugene talks with his team after players, parents, and coaches rallied on his behalf at the Department of Education offices on Friday.
Community News Group / Laura Amato