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New Stritch grid coach fired days before 1st game

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Hampton

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Cardinal Stritch High School's new head football coach has been fired before his first game for allegedly diverting the Catholic school's funds for personal use, according to a report filed Wednesday with the Oregon Police Department.

Lt. Hank Everitt said he couldn't release further details, including the amount of money Andre Hampton is accused of taking, because Mr. Hampton has not been charged with any crime.

In the police report, the school's president, the Rev. David Reinhart, accused Mr. Hampton of opening a bank account in the school's name without permission and transferring school money into the account for personal use.

Father Reinhart said yesterday that school officials and football players were shocked by the allegations against Mr. Hampton, who had been an assistant at Central Catholic High School before Stritch hired him as its head coach in January.

"Andre presented himself as a very upstanding man and a man of character," Father Reinhart said. "He was a person we had great hopes for, but the evidence was very clear, and there was no way we could let him remain on staff."

Mr. Hampton, 28, denied the accusations in an interview yesterday. He declined to discuss the charges, saying he will meet with a lawyer and release a statement early next week.

"The truth will come from this," he said. "My only concern right now is for the kids, for them being able to go out and have a very successful football season."

Father Reinhart said school officials fired Mr. Hampton on Tuesday, the same day bank representatives contacted the school about the alleged strange account. The school announced yesterday that it had promoted assistant coach Conrad Kolbow to head coach.

Mr. Hampton had replaced head coach Tony Beier, who resigned at the end of last season after the team went 1-9 overall with a 1-5 record in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference. The year before, the Cardinals won the TAAC championship with a 6-0 conference record.

Before working at Central, Mr. Hampton previously coached at Defiance College and Ohio Northern University. He played wide receiver at Ohio Northern after walking on with the Ohio State football team in 1998 and 1999.

With the season opener against Fremont's St. Joseph Central Catholic High just eight days away, the Cardinals must now adjust to the team's second new coach in less than a year.

Mr. Kolbow, who also works as a Lucas County sheriff's deputy, said he'll stick to the strategies Mr. Hampton had implemented as coach.

"It would be impossible at this late date to try to make major changes," he said.

Father Reinhart said he and athletics staff met with players and parents yesterday, just before practice, to explain why Mr. Hampton was fired. He said he thinks the team can succeed this year, despite losing its leader.

"We should never put all of our faith in one person," Father Reinhart said. "The team is bigger than a coach."

Contact Gabe Nelson at:

gnelson@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.

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