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Dismissed St. Aug’s coach denies clash with interim president

Former St. Augustine’s football coach Michael Costa says he didn’t disrespect anybody, disagreeing with the explanation given by Athletics Director George Williams as the reason for Costa’s firing on Monday.

Williams said Costa was released for continued disrespect toward interim school President Everett Ward and the administration.

“When you change administrations, you expect the good, the bad, the ugly,” Williams said by phone Tuesday. “It’s something we all feel bad about, but to disrespect the institution is too far. They just couldn’t deal with the changes.”

Williams was referring to Costa and defensive coordinator Tremayne Henry, who also was let go.

Costa said the “disagreement” began in a meeting with Williams over team travel issues due to budget cuts.

“They wanted us to drive just one bus to Pennsylvania for the (Sept. 6) game. You don’t put 80 people on a 55-passenger bus to travel nine hours and then tell the coaches they had to drive vans behind them,” Costa said by phone Tuesday. “That was a safety issue, and that’s what I told him (Williams). I disagreed with him, but I didn’t disrespect nobody.”

Costa said the players were given a chance to speak to Ward and eventually were told they would have two buses. But by then word had gotten out to the parents who contacted the local media.

Williams disputes the situation.

“That was a terrible thing to do – giving kids misinformation, and they call their parents and everybody is up in arms,” he said.

Costa is the only head football coach the Falcons have had since reinstating the program 13 years ago. He compiled a 39-63 record and had his best seasons in 2005 (8-2) and 2010 (9-2).

Williams said football’s expenses were out of control and needed to be reeled in, but Costa responded that the program was being made a scapegoat.

“Everything is budget, budget, budget; and everything now is blamed on football,” he said. “They ... cut my salary, raised my rent, and I was the only full-time coach during the summer; and still I stayed.”

Costa said he believes the administration is punishing him for the bus incident going public.

“I think they think we told the kids to protest, but it was the parents who told them to,” he said. “It was all about safety. If something happens to those kids, it’s on my head. “I knew that with all the stuff going down that this would probably be my last season. I was prepared for that. But I didn’t expect this.”

Offensive coordinator Michael Morand has been named the interim coach. The Falcons host Wingate on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Enloe High School.