Parents in Brooklyn are furious after the headmaster of upscale Poly Prep Country Day School “canceled” the varsity football coach because the program allegedly created a “toxic” culture. The New York Post reports, the school’s headmaster, Audrius Barzdukas, fired Kevin Fountaine, who worked at the Dyker Heights school for 19 years, the past five as head coach, just before one of the team’s practice sessions began.
Fountaine, a 55-year-old former NYPD detective, was instructed to leave the $53,000-a-year school immediately, and players learned of his departure as they prepared for their playoff game on October 30.
Barzdukas joined Poly Prep in 2016 after serving as athletic director at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles.
One member of the coaching staff said, “It was shocking—emotional. Kids [were] crying. Everyone [was] crying. It was traumatic.”
In the past, Poly Prep’s football team was devastated by sexual assault allegations against former coach Philip Foglietta, who departed in 1991. In 2012, the school resolved a lawsuit over the abuse, and in 2014, it apologized to the victims.
However, in recent years, the football program restored its reputation.
Fountaine coached Poly Prep alum Isaiah Wilson, who was picked by the Tennessee Titans in 2020 and recently signed to the New York Giants practice squad. The school also touts Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores and former New York Knick Joakim Noah among its grads.
According to one parent, Fountaine was the one who brought back Poly Prep football without a hint of scandal.
She stated, “That’s one of the beautiful things that Fountaine has done. He’s come to a broken program. He’s brought so much incredible love, inspiration, motivation to it. He’s created… this incredible program.”
Former Poly Prep athletic director Craig Jacoby, who hired Fountaine in 2002, said, “I know Kevin Fountaine is of the highest degree of character and probably the most kid-first coach I’d ever been associated with.”
Parents demanded to know why Fountaine was fired. They were reportedly told by Barzdukas, “I’m the headmaster. I make these decisions.”
One parent said Barzdukas told her that “the football culture is toxic” and “we don’t need this on our campus.” Barzdukas also allegedly cited one incident of Mike Camardese, the junior-varsity coach who was given Fountaine’s job, using profane language at a JV game as a reason for Fountaine’s dismissal.
At least one parent believes that Fountaine’s firing was prompted by complaints Barzdukas received from girls at the school claiming the players made them feel uncomfortable and one player being labeled creepy. The parent said, “It’s this weird narrative that he’s trying to create, and it’s bulls**t.”
According to a football-team staff member, a team meeting was assembled at the school’s chapel to explain Fountaine’s departure. Barzdukas claimed players were cutting classes and being hostile towards LGBT people.
The staff member noted that Barzdukas gave no specifics and said, “He repeated ‘culture’ like hundreds of times and really disparaged the kids.” Additionally, he noted that Barzdukas attempted to explain the firing by “putting it on coach Fountaine and also putting it on the kids.”
Barzdukas said, “At Poly, we care deeply about promoting a culture rooted in integrity, civility and respect, and when necessary, we take decisive action to protect this culture,” but that the school “would not comment on personnel matters.”
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