Report: Former UCF assistant defends George O'Leary against racism accusations

Oct 1, 3:45 PM

David Kelly, an African-American who served as an assistant under head coach George O'Leary at both UCF and Georgia Tech, is not buying Paul Ferraro's accusations that O'Leary is a racist.

"I never have heard (O'Leary) say anything that could be interpreted as derogatory, degrading, or slightly disrespectful regarding any race, or sect of people," Kelly told FOX Sports on Wednesday. "George O'Leary is a lot of things to a lot of people, I'm sure, but a racist he is not."

Ferraro, a former UCF coach, alleges in a lawsuit that O'Leary used racist remarks, and "created a work environment that was permeated by bullying, threatening behavior, and repeated discriminatory epithets by O'Leary."

"Obviously I wasn't present during any of the interchanges that he had with Paul at UCF, and mind you that Paul is a friend of mine," claimed Kelly. "But I'm absolutely shocked at the allegations, and suggestions about George O'Leary making comments of that sort."

Sep 29, 10:24 PM

Former UCF defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro accuses coach of racist remarks in lawsuit

Sep 29, 10:24 PM

Paul Ferraro's short-lived tenure at UCF appears to have had a dreadful impact on him.

Ferraro was hired as the school's defensive coordinator in December 2013 and was out the door by early March. At the time it was reported by the Orlando Sentinel that coach George O'Leary would not elaborate on Ferraro's departure but had promoted linebackers coach Tyson Summers to interim defensive coordinator for the spring.  

But a breach of contract lawsuit filed Friday may offer some insight into Ferraro's exit. In it he accuses O'Leary of explosive racist remarks, USA Today reports

The suit alleges O'Leary used a derogatory word for African-Americans and called the NFL "one big 'Ru-Ru' tribe." It also alleges O'Leary once told coaches to check African-American players "to make sure their gums are blue, because they are bigger, faster and stronger than (African-American players) with red gums."

According to the report, a Feb. 25 email was sent by Ferraro to O'Leary, copying the assistant coaches.

"No longer will I put up with your constant verbal abuse of both our coaching and support staff," the email said in part, according to a copy attached to the suit. "Threatening coaches on a regular basis with their jobs and racial slurs mixed in to make a point is wrong."

Grant Heston, UCF vice-president of communications and marketing, defended the institution via email to USA Today, essentially saying Ferraro was making the whole thing up. 

UCF immediately investigated the allegations Mr. Ferraro made when he abruptly abandoned his job. The university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office found the allegations to be untrue. None of the individuals alleged to have been the subject of, or to have overheard, these supposed statements corroborated Mr. Ferraro’s claims. In fact, until seeking compensation after abandoning his job, it does not appear he ever discussed this with anyone at UCF.

Ferraro says he was fired without cause, but the school maintains he resigned. After being hired away from Maine, he has since returned to the Black Bears program as defensive coordinator. 

The suit includes a lot of unpaid wages towards Ferraro. It asks for damages in excess of $15,000, including salary he missed out on in the two-year, $440,000 contract he signed. The school says it has paid him what he's owed.

Mar 6, 8:33 AM

UCF defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro leaves program

Mar 6, 8:33 AM

University of Central Florida defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro has left the team less than three months after his hiring.  

Speaking with the Orlando Sentinel, UCF coach George O'Leary would not elaborate on Ferraro's departure but said that he's promoted linebackers coach Tyson Summers to interim defensive coordinator for the spring. 

“Paul Ferraro left for personal reasons and I wish him well,” O’Leary said. “I’ve named Tyson Summers interim coordinator until after the spring when a decision will be made. I’m giving Tyson the opportunity based on the great job he did as interim coordinator at the Fiesta Bowl and I’m interested to see how much progress we make in the spring under his tutelage.”

Ferraro was hired Dec. 28 and had yet to join the them for an official practice. UCF is set to begin spring practices next week. 

Dec 26, 4:30 PM

Report: UCF hire Paul Ferraro as defensive coordinator

Dec 26, 4:30 PM

The University of Central Florida have reportedly hired former special teams coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers' Paul Ferraro as their new defensive coordinator. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ferraro joins the Knights after spending the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach for the University of Maine. Ferraro's resume also includes a stop with the St. Louis Rams, where he acted as the team's linebacker coach for three seasons prior to a return to coaching collegiately. 

The hiring reunites Ferraro with Knights head coach George O'Leary. The pair coached at Georgia Tech from 1999-00.