A lawsuit filed by former UCF defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro against the UCF Board of Trustees alleges head coach George O’Leary used offensive terms to describe African-Americans and Jews, and that Ferraro was wrongfully terminated, according to multiple reports.
Ferraro, who is white, is leveling the suit against the UCF Board of Trustees and UCF Athletics Association, according to Bay News 9’s Ryan Bass. It alleges wrongful termination and racism on O’Leary’s behalf.
The school insisted Monday “UCF is an inclusive and diverse institution,” and that an apparent investigation by the school has demonstrated the lawsuit’s claims are meritless, according to USA Today’s Erik Brady. UCF maintains Ferraro was not fired but abruptly “abandoned his job.”
Bass’ report Monday said:
In a lawsuit filed on Sept. 26, 2014, Ferraro claims he was wrongfully fired and is seeking damages in excess of $15,000. Ferraro accuses UCF head coach George O'Leary of bullying him and making discriminating remarks toward him.
"Some of the discriminatory remarks were uttered about Ferraro in his presence and concerned his Italian heritage," the lawsuit claims. "Specifically, O’Leary called Ferraro a ‘Guinea.'” O’Leary also made discriminatory remarks about African-Americans and persons of Jewish descent, the lawsuit states.
UCF issued a statement regarding the allegations.
“UCF immediately investigated the allegations Mr. Ferraro made when he abruptly abandoned his job," UCF's vice president of communications and marketing Grant Heston said. "The university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office found the allegations to be untrue.”
Ferraro replaced former defensive coordinator Jim Fleming on the Knights’ staff on Dec. 28, 2013. Ferraro was only with the team for one game as defensive coordinator -- the 2014 Fiesta Bowl in which UCF defeated a high-octane Baylor offense 52-42 -- before he says he was asked to leave.
Ferraro left the program for “personal reasons” in March. Court documents from Ferraro allege O’Leary, who had worked with Ferraro at Georgia Tech during the 1999-2000 season, was having second thoughts about having hired him.
The allegations against O’Leary come a few weeks after he was rumored to be considering stepping down from his head coaching position.
- Will Green