Steve Karaduzovic was fired as head coach of the Christ the King varsity soccer team just prior to the start of the league season last month.
The 37-year-old Long Island resident admitted he allowed a student from a neighboring public high school to play for the Christ the King team in a non-league scrimmage, a flagrant violation of school policy which ultimately led to his dismissal by school athletic director Bob Oliva.
A mistake was made and we felt at that point that we had to move in a new direction, Oliva said. There are just some things you dont go over with coaches when you hire them, certain things you take for granted.
Karaduzovic was in the process of rebuilding the program over the last two years, bringing a team which has fallen off the city landscape back to respectability. But in his attempt to further that cause, Karaduzovic allowed a player he was trying to recruit to play with the team in a scheduled scrimmage against another Queens team.
Its all about liability, Karaduzovic said. No one wants to lose a half-million-dollar lawsuit. I completely understand that. Theres no doubt in my mind what I did was wrong, but I only did it to improve the program.
The player in question, who neither the school nor Karaduzovic wished to name, played with other Christ the King players last winter during an informal out-of-school indoor season. Karaduzovic admittedly was trying to lure the player to the Middle Village school and away from his public high school program.
I was trying to recruit a kid, Karaduzovic said. The kid is one of the best players in the city. This was a done deal.
Karaduzovic said he had persuaded the students parents, who are Muslim, to allow their son to attend the Catholic school and that his transfer was imminent. But when word reached the Christ the King administration regarding the rules infraction, Karaduzovic was let go and the player in question remained at his public school.
The school felt it was a major, major problem, Karaduzovic said. And I agree with them. Would I have ever done this in a league game? Absolutely not.
Despite his dismay at being fired, Karaduzovic said he is still working to help some of his former players receive college scholarships and that he is still rooting for the team.
I wish them the best. I hope the new people in charge are as dedicated as I was, he said.
Karaduzovic was replaced by a teacher at the school, Francesco Romano, who could not be reached for comment, but who Oliva said had both played and coached soccer before.
Frank Visone, who acted as an assistant under Karaduzovic and has retained that position under Romano, said that losing Karaduzovic was kind of tough on the team, and that the school lost a top-notch coach.
Its sad because hes a great coach, Visone said. He just made a mistake. Hes a good guy. Any school would want him as a coach, even with this mistake.
Those were the rules; he broke them, Visone added. I dont think he meant to mislead anybody. Thats my opinion. I loved coaching under him. He wanted the best for the kids.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
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