Southeastern PA

Palisades wrestling coach fighting PIAA sanctions

Palisades wrestling controversy

A high school wrestling coach from Bucks County who gained attention for a controversial decision to forfeit a match is now without that coaching job.

The Palisades School District told 69 News it has opted not to renew head wrestling coach Omar Porrata's contract.

Porrata gained attention in January after a decision to have his team forfeit a match against Bethlehem Catholic at a district competition.

He's now facing sanctions from the PIAA and repercussions from the district.

69 News spoke with his attorney Friday, who said they are threatening a lawsuit against the PIAA if it doesn't drop the sanctions.

Attorney Matthew Deschler explained his client's decision to forfeit the January match.

"Mr. Porrata made the decision due to the injured state of his wrestling team that it would just not be advisable, it would not be healthy for his wrestlers to wrestle that match," he said. "All of the wrestlers were experiencing varying degrees of injury and at most, only one or two, despite their injuries, were even in a position to be able to wrestle, in Mr. Porrata's judgment."

Deschler said the wrestlers' injuries and ailments included stomach virus, flu symptoms, an elbow injury, a recent concussion and cauliflower ear.

He went on to say, "Wild rumors and speculation began to fly that the forfeit was due because of some sort of animosity towards the way Bethlehem Catholic conducts its wrestling program. That's absolutely not the case."

Palisades wrestlers competed against another school an hour and a half earlier and won.

Deschler said the same injuries and ailments were present during that match.

"We acknowledge a mistake on Mr. Porrata's part but the mistake wasn't forfeiting against Bethlehem Catholic. The mistake was to wrestle against Jim Thorpe," he said.

Deschler is fighting back against sanctions against Porrata that he says would prohibit any PIAA school that would employ Porrata as a wrestling coach from participating in 2014-2015 post-season competition.

The following statement was released by the Palisades School District Thursday:

"The District would like to thank Mr. Omar Porrata for his six years of service as head wrestling coach of the Palisades Wrestling Program. During Mr. Porrata's time at Palisades he took a struggling program that was near extinction and turned it around. In recent years the Palisades wrestlers have qualified for the Colonial League Championships, District XI team duals and individual wrestlers have placed at the state competition.

The future of Palisades Wrestling looks bright and we look forward to seeing the success of the Palisades Wrestling program continue.

Applications for the Palisades Head Wrestling Coach position are now being accepted by Rebecca George, Athletic Director. Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest, resume, references and current clearances (Act 24, 34, 114 and 15) to 35 Church Hill Drive, Kintnersville, PA 18930 by Monday, April 28th."

While the district said it is not renewing Porrata's contract, Deschler said the contract Porrata signed in 2013 does not have a stated length of term.

"It does not, by its terms, automatically end on a date certain such that the contract would need to be renewed in order for Mr. Porrata to coach the next season."

Deschler said, "Everyone agrees he has done a fantastic job there and all he wants to do is keep coaching."

He sent a letter to the PIAA and said if he doesn't hear back within ten days about the association's intent to drop the sanctions, he will file a lawsuit.

When describing how Porrata is doing, Deschler said, "He is thrilled to have the support of all the parents of the wrestlers in the program behind him. Obviously it's a distressing situation because he's been told that he can't do a job that he has loved doing for six years."

He added, "He's upbeat about going forward but obviously he wishes we weren't in this situation."

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