A highly successful high school football coach has been suspended indefinitely as Montour High School’s athletic director. The suspension comes over questions relating to fees for security provided at school events, sources said..
Lou Cerro, who has won three WPIAL titles in his football coaching career, was suspended with pay last week by Donald Boyer, superintendent of Montour schools. But Cerro only was suspended as athletic director. He will continue to coach the football team.
The official start of high school football practice in Pennsylvania is six days away, but teams will begin three required heat acclimatization practices Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to coaching football this season, and that’s all I can really say right now,” Cerro said Monday afternoon, shortly before getting ready for a team workout.
Tony Rippole, equipment manager for Montour athletics, also has been suspended with pay. “I really don’t know where this thing is going. I really can’t tell you anything else,” Rippole said.
Cerro referred all questions to Boyer and assistant superintendent Jason Burik. Boyer said he and a labor attorney are handling the investigation, but Boyer would not reveal the subject of the investigation.
“Depending upon how this works out is something that should not be aired in the press or public,” said Boyer. “Neither side benefits from that at this point. People have the concept that three people have been put on administrative leave. There are only two. The only thing I am willing to say is that Mr. Rippole and Mr. Cerro have been placed on administrative leave.”
Dean Caliguire, a Montour school board member, said Boyer is the one who decided on the suspensions.
“There was an investigation by the superintendent, although we don’t know exactly why,” Caliguire said. “The superintendent handed out the discipline. The board doesn’t know why until it comes to a board hearing.”
Caliguire is a former standout Montour football player who went on to play at Pitt.
“When I came onto this board [three years ago], I wanted to strive for communication, consistency and transparency. I don’t know if that is always the case in our place, and that is something that concerns me,” Caliguire said. “I don’t really know about the case. I hope it’s nothing. But I know a bunch of kids are affected here, and that, to me, is the shame of it. I just hope the discipline is consistent for every employee, regardless of what comes out of this case.”
Boyer would not say who would be the interim athletic director for Cerro. He also said he was unsure if the school board would eventually decide on Cerro’s future.
“It depends on the findings,” Boyer said. “Things could be turned over to law enforcement. It could be that or it could be an employment issue. All of these have different routes to travel.”
Robinson police Chief Dale Vietmeier said his department is not involved in the investigation, and Mike Manko, spokesman for Allegheny Country district attorney’s office, said that office is not involved, either.
Caliguire spoke highly of Cerro, saying, “I think Lou Cerro is a good guy and has served our district very well for a lot of years.”
Cerro was promoted to athletic director last summer. He was hired as Montour’s coach and director of facilities in 2005.
But after Cerro was hired as coach, he had to spend his first year as an “assistant” because former NFL player Dick Butkus was hired as head coach for a TV reality series. Butkus left before the 2005 season finished. Cerro took over and turned around a struggling program. He won a WPIAL title in 2011 and also made it to a championship game two other times. Since 2006, he is 64-28.
In 12 previous seasons at Seton-LaSalle, he won two other WPIAL titles and had an 82-46-1 record.
Mike White: email@example.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.