EAST HAVEN — Jim Reynolds will not be back as boys’ basketball coach at East Haven High.
At a board of education meeting Monday night that lasted well over three hours, board members voted 5-3 against Reynolds’ appeal to return as head coach of the Easties. Reynolds, 57, was notified on May 1 that he would not be retained as the program’s head coach.
“I was concerned that I wasn’t going to get a fair trial and I didn’t,” Reynolds said. “It was a kangaroo court.”
Reynolds said it was an “ambush” against him by high school principal Vin DeNuzzo “to please Tom Hennessey.”
Hennessey, who is the board of education chairperson, also had a son who was cut from the basketball program.
Reynolds said during his testimony that he approached Hennessey in October.
“He went off in a 30-second tirade,” Reynolds explained. “You’re nothing but a (expletive). I want to kick the (expletive) out of you. You don’t know who I am. I donate more money than you make.”
Reynolds added: “He said I’m going to spend the next nine months of my life trying to get rid of you.”
As the board chairperson, Hennessey chose not to vote. Also on the board is DeNuzzo’s father, Ron, who voted in favor of not retaining Reynolds.
Reynolds’ witness, Kevin Vinyard, a parent of a player in the program, was called as a witness. But he was not allowed to testify, as he was ruled irrelevant to the case.
Reynolds coached four seasons at East Haven High. East Haven did not make the CIAC state tournament and were 15-65 during Reynolds’ tenure. He got a chance to coach his son, Conor, who will be a sophomore.
“I sincerely hope after seeing what I saw tonight that nothing happens to my three sons who are in the East Haven public school system,” Reynolds said. “I’m worried that something like that could happen.”
Reynolds, an East Haven resident, spent one season at Guilford before taking over at East Haven. Prior to that, he coached 14 years at Wilbur Cross, winning 254 games, six Southern Connecticut Conference titles and a Class L state championship in 2003.
He resigned following a 24-1 season in 2007-08, citing philosophical differences he had with the direction of the program. He accepted the Guilford job just days later.
DeNuzzo cited a handful of reasons for not retaining Reynolds as head coach.
“There was a lack of maximum student participation,” said DeNuzzo who started as principal last year. “It was a fractured program. There was a lack of performance and there was a genuine lack of connectivity to the school with the student athletes.”
Reynolds did not rule out coaching somewhere next season.
“I may be coaching next year,” Reynolds said. “Good luck to the new coach here. He will have a team that could challenge for the SCC title over the next three years.”