Ailing Allen out as coach
Holy Cross 'relieves' him of football duties
Under normal circumstances, it would have been a transaction that drew attention but was filed under "the price of doing business" in college athletics. The Holy Cross football team finished this season 1-11, a school record for losses.
And this was coming off a 4-8 season a year ago. The bottom line of wins and losses couldn't be ignored, in the opinion of the Holy Cross president, the Rev. Michael C. McFarland S.J. Not with a football coach who was battling a debilitating and potentially life-threatening illness.
Yesterday, Holy Cross announced that coach Dan Allen had been relieved of his duties after eight seasons.
"Not fired," said athletic director Richard Regan. "Dan is just not the football coach. He's still employed by the university and will receive all the insurance benefits of someone who does work for the university."
Allen suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity, an illness that has crippled him, forced him to use a wheelchair, but has not diminished his desire to do his job.
But with no signs of a recovery soon, and with the losses mounting and the constant need to bring in new talent, the Holy Cross administration came to a decision that it needed to head in a new direction.
"We owe it to our student-athletes to be competitive in the Patriot League," said McFarland. "It is in my judgment that new leadership and direction are necessary."
Allen's record at Holy Cross over eight seasons was 26-63, which would put any coach's job in serious jeopardy, regardless of physical ailments. Efforts to reach Allen for comment yesterday were unsuccessful.
Regan said the process of finding a replacement had already begun.
"Once the word got out, we started hearing from people," he said. "We're going to conduct a nationwide search to find the best person we can."
Holy Cross's intentions are clear. The administration wants to compete at the highest level of Division 1-AA. It wants to compete for a national championship, like Patriot League champion Colgate, which will face the University of Massachusetts in the opening round of the Division 1-AA playoffs Saturday.
"There's no easy way to do this," said Regan. "But it is something we felt we had to do."
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.