NCCU fires embattled football coach
Days after his arrest on an allegation of violating a domestic violence protective order, Henry Frazier III is out as N.C. Central University’s head football coach.
He was fired Thursday because school leaders viewed fallout from Frazier’s personal life as a distraction that blocks the best interests of the university’s student-athletes.
The decision to fire Frazier was relatively swift, coming three days after he was arrested for violating an order in place to govern his relationship with his ex-wife, Lanier Turner-Frazier.
On Tuesday, NCCU spokeswoman Ayana Hernandez had announced that Frazier had been suspended with full pay as a result of the charges, and that assistant head coach Dwayne Foster was in control of the team on an interim basis.
Attorney Ralph Frasier Jr. insisted that the claim against Frazier was bogus, because his client never even showed up at Turner-Frazier’s Cary residence where the violation supposedly occurred on Monday.
But athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree during a press conference on campus Thursday made the case that it was imperative for the university to cut ties with Frazier.
“We just decided that it’s best to move in a different direction and move on,” Wicker-McCree said. “We’re not here to say whether he’s guilty or innocent. That’s for the legal system to decide. We just wish the best for Coach Frazier and his family; that they move past these issues.”
Frazier has a Sept. 30 court date.
Last May, Turner-Frazier told Morrisville police that Frazier assaulted her in their home. The two were married at the time but have since divorced.
Frazier was suspended with pay after last year’s arrest, and Foster, again, assumed control of the team.
The case eventually ended with Frazier pleading guilty to the assault charges before being reinstated to his coaching position less than two weeks before the start of practice for the 2012 season.
Wicker-McCree at the time expressed full confidence in him. That trust apparently eroded some time between this past Monday and Thursday.
NCCU may not be done dealing with Frazier.
“We are exploring all options,” Frazier’s lawyer said.
Frasier said his client on Monday sent a non-threatening note to Turner-Frazier, informing her that he’d paid $205 for a parking ticket that he wasn’t responsible for. Either Turner-Frazier or her biological daughter generated the ticket in Washington, D.C., and Frazier wrote that he took care of it and would deduct what he paid from the ex-wife’s alimony, Frasier said.
The note was delivered to Turner-Frazier by their son, in keeping with how the two have communicated about financial matters since their separation, yet that got interpreted as a violation of the protective order, Frasier said.
Wicker-McCree conceded that Frazier’s firing came with its own measure of undue attention.
“We have to consider all the issues,” Wicker-McCree said. “We’ve considered all the issues and events that have occurred over the last 18 months. Anytime there’s a disruption of leadership in any kind of program, there’s going to be some fallout from that.”
NCCU’s football players had the day off and weren’t available to address whether they’d been distracted by Frazier’s situation.
“I can’t speak for them,” Wicker-McCree said about the student-athletes. “But I do know they are very supportive of their coaches and of Coach Frazier.”
Foster said he hadn’t spoken with Frazier since the termination, but Wicker-McCree met with him earlier in the day to explain the deal.
“Of course, he’s very disappointed,” Wicker-McCree said. “This is something that he loves to do. But there is an understanding of a contract, and we have to abide by those contract terms, as well as any leader on this campus who’s in position to be a role model for young men and women. We have to understand what our role is and what the standards and behavior are for our university.”
Frazier was the head coach at Prairie View A&M when NCCU hired him in Dec. 2010 at an annual salary of $225,000.
NCCU goes to Wallace Wade Stadium on Aug. 31 to play in the Bull City Gridiron Classic, the season opener for both teams.