Wood coach Gallagher resigns amid allegations
Archbishop Wood girls' basketball coach John Gallagher announced his resignation Monday afternoon amid allegations that he sent anonymous emails to college coaches in hopes of ruining the NCAA eligibility of rival players.
Gallagher was called as a witness to a lawsuit filed by former Neumann-Goretti coach Letty Santarelli. Santarelli, who resigned in October, is suing Stephen Skedzielewski, who she replaced as coach in 2012. Santarelli is seeking more than $50,000 in damages for libel, slander, and misrepresentation of character.
Calls to Gallagher and Archbishop Wood athletic director Joe Sette were not returned. Gallagher's lawyer had no comment.
Santarelli's lawyers presented in court unsigned emails sent to Karen Aston, the head women's coach at the University of Texas. Neumann-Goretti senior Christina Aborowa signed with Texas in November.
The emails – sent by an AOL account under the name "Kyle Dunn" – said Neumann-Goretti's three Nigerian players lived alone in a Southwest Philadelphia home owned by an AAU coach but are registered to live with a host family in Northwest Philadelphia. It said the girls were provided money for tuition, sneakers, school uniforms, and lunch. PeopleSmart.com – a website that conducts quick background checks – linked the email account to Gallagher's Bucks County home.
Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood became rivals in recent years as Neumann-Goretti's upstart program replaced Wood as the Catholic League's dominant team. The Saints, ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today, are heavy favorites to repeat as champions.
Santarelli also presented an unsigned letter sent to the PIAA, alleging that Neumann-Goretti was being funneled players from an AAU program and that six players on the team combined for $25,000 in scholarships The lawsuit alleged that Skedzielewski wrote the letter. The Archdiocese investigated the program. A spokesperson said in October that there was nothing to report.
The lawsuit contends that the emails and letters were "poison letters" and "outrageous malicious attacks on teenage girls and their basketball coach."
Santarelli's squad bested Gallagher's Vikings in last year's Catholic League final to capture Neumann-Goretti's first title since 1978. Wood, which had won three of the previous four state titles, lost twice last season to Neumann-Goretti. The Saints are coached this season by Andrea Peterson, who was an assistant under Santarelli. Neumann-Goretti has won its 10 Catholic League games this season by an average margin of 44.9 points.