UCF denies racism claims vs. O'Leary

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The University of Central Florida has denied accusations that coach George O'Leary made racist remarks.

"UCF is an inclusive and diverse institution and our investigation shows that these claims are without merit," a UCF spokesman told USA TODAY Sports by email Monday.

Former UCF defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro said, in a breach of contract lawsuit filed Friday, that O'Leary used racial slurs and made racist remarks about African-Americans.

"UCF immediately investigated the allegations Mr. Ferraro made when he abruptly abandoned his job," the UCF spokesman wrote in the email to USA TODAY Sports. "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's lawsuit claims he was terminated from his position without cause, while UCF says he resigned. He was hired in December but gone before spring practice, despite a two-year contract, USA TODAY Sports reported.

"Coach Ferraro deserves representation like anyone else who has been wronged," Nathan McCoy, one of Ferraro's attorneys, told USA TODAY Sports via email. "We are simply acting as his voice and intend no harm toward UCF or UCFAA. In fact our client made numerous attempts to resolve this pre-suit and out of the public eye.

"That said, this is a case about a man doing what is right: standing up for himself and others by objecting to unlawful conduct. In retaliation, UCFAA treated his objection as a resignation despite his continued insistence to the contrary. Even after being unlawfully terminated, our client willingly participated in an investigation, trusting that it would lead to an improved work environment for his co-workers and reinstatement of his employment. Nonetheless, our client remains unemployed while UCFAA continues to refuse to honor the terms of its agreement with coach Ferraro."