Shelton boys soccer coach Joe D’Auria was fired Wednesday, just days before the two-time defending SCC championship team begins postseason play.
Shelton Superintendent of Schools Christopher Clouet said in an emailed statement to Hearst Connecticut Media Thursday that D’Auria was dismissed following two separate investigations into his conduct over the last month. D’Auria had coached Shelton’s boys soccer team for the past 14 seasons.
The first investigation involved a text message sent to his three captains, interpreted by some as asking the captains to lie on his behalf after D’Auria received two yellow cards and was ejected from a game against Fairfield Prep in September. D’Auria said in his defense that’s an incorrect interpretation of the events, also saying the referee never actually had any yellow cards to issue him.
Shelton Public Schools reinstated D’Auria as coach after he missed four games — one for the ejection, the other three during the investigation.
But a second investigation quickly followed when Mark Beacham — whose son, Sean, one of the three captains who received the initial text, was removed from the team for violating school policy on Oct. 10 — produced a second text message from D’Auria allegedly disparaging his son.
D’Auria met with school officials on Wednesday and was told he was being removed as the head coach.
“Issues came to light this season which resulted in his being sidelined while a formal investigation occurred,” Clouet said in the statement. “After reviewing the findings, and considering his many years of service, I reinstated Coach D’Auria, with the agreement that he would live up to Shelton and CIAC codes of conduct.
“Regrettably, almost immediately upon his return, new issues surfaced. On Wednesday, October 25, a meeting was held to offer him an opportunity to provide any insights regarding his most recent actions. These actions resulted in his dismissal as Coach.”
Assistant coach Isaac Montalvo has been named the interim coach.
D’Auria, 44, said he did reach out to Mark Beacham, first by text, then by voicemail, saying, “’Hey Mark, I want to have a civil discussion let me know when we can do so.’”
Beacham confirmed he received the text message and voice mail from D’Auria, but “they didnt come until the second text in question was already sent out to the parent.”
D’Auria confirmed that a text message he sent about Sean Beacham to a friend, whom he declined to identify, eventually got back to Beacham’s father.
“Communication between me and a parent, a good friend of mine, a private text message sent to him and it was regarding Sean,” D’Auria said Wednesday. “And because I told him to (have his child) be careful about who he hangs out with, Mark Beacham got wind of it and here I am because I was singling out his son.”
When reached for further comment Thursday, D’Auria still would not disclose the person who received the text, but did add, “It was a text message from a father to a father to watch out for his kid to make sure he is OK and that was it.”
Upon receiving the text D’Auria wrote about his son, Mark Beacham said he discussed the issue with Clouet last Friday.
“The text message in question accuses my son of committing what are ultimately felonies in the state of Connecticut,” Beacham said. “(Clouet) said, ‘I need to circle back with you. I have some questions of my own.’”
Beacham said Clouet never got back in touch before D’Auria was fired Wednesday.
“I am talking to a lawyer now, consulting on some things that need to be addressed,”D’Auria said. He wouldn’t comment on what things in particular.
Mark Beacham said his son is no longer on the team because a video from June surfaced on Oct. 10 showing his son “under the influence,” a violation of school policy. Beacham said he was unaware of what his son did until the video surfaced and it is unknown who made it public.
Beacham believes the appearance of his son’s video could have been retaliation for coming forward with D’Auria’s text message to his captains. It is unknown how the video became public, however.
“I knew there would be some fallout (for coming forward), but I didn’t know exactly what,” Beacham said.
Said D’Auria: “I didn’t have anything to do with what happened on that. I haven’t seen the video, they (the administration) wouldn’t show me the video.”
That first text message, which was obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media, states: “If (Shelton Athletic Director John) Niski asks u if I received 2 yellows — my answer to him was that he never showed me the second yellow. He just told me to go over and sit.”
Mark Beacham said his son showed that text to his him. “I told him, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lie to anybody,’” he said, interpreting that D’Auria had asked his captains to lie on his behalf.
D’Auria said the referee who ejected him didn’t have his yellow cards with him. “The referee never showed me a yellow card and told me to go over and sit,” D’Auria said. “I continued to coach behind the bench, I have a lawyer’s interpretation of the CIAC rules and by his interpretation, I was never ejected from the game. … On the report, it was stated by the official’s assignor (the person who decides which officials will work each game) that the referee was going to be reprimanded for not having his cards.”
And according to D’Auria, that was the reason he texted his three captains, to explain his interpretation of it in case Niski asked.
Beacham said he had a meeting the following week with Beth A. Smith, the Shelton High School Headmaster, and Niski to go over a number of issues involving D’Auria, including the text message sent to his son.
D’Auria, who sat out the next game against Lyman Hall for the ejection (any coach or player must sit the next game following an ejection under CIAC rules), coached Oct. 2 against Amity. He then missed the next three games while Shelton Public Schools investigated the first text message incident.
Shelton Public Schools investigated the alleged text and ultimately reinstated D’Auria as head coach, declaring it “a personnel issue.”
Shelton Public Schools did not specify how many games D’Auria missed during its investigation, though Beacham said it was three.
D’Auria was reinstated for the Oct. 16 game against Branford, to the dismay of Beacham and two other parents who wished to remain anonymous.
“This story was never about me or Joe D’Auria,” said Beacham, whose two older sons and younger daughter played for D’Auria over the years. “It was about helping my son who stood up, refused to lie and asked me for help. I was only pushing this forward for my son and for the rest of the kids on the team who deserved better.”
D’Auria said another incident from the second Fairfield Prep game was raised in the meeting. A Shelton goal was disallowed. The end result was a 1-1 tie.
D’Auria said a video of the goal, which D’Auria said has since been taken down, showed it was an incorrect call and it “exploded on social media, all over Instagram, all over Snapchat, all over everywhere.” He said he was tagged in one of the posts where he wrote: “I’m proud of my boys for their accomplishments.”
D’Auria said the soccer assignor called Niski to complain about that particular tagged post.
Shelton completed its regular season at 13-2-1 and will host Cheshire Saturday in the SCC tournament quarterfinals.
“I love my boys and wish them good luck. They have a championship-caliber team,” D’Auria said
GameTimeCT editor Sean Patrick Bowley contributed to this story.