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Ex-wrestling coach Billman sues Easton, blames racism for firing

JaMarr Billman

Less than two weeks ago -- May 29 -- JaMarr Billman learned he would no longer serve as head wrestling coach at Easton Area School District.

Now Billman, who was once a successful wrestler for the Easton Rovers who later served as head coach for the storied prep program for four seasons, has filed a lawsuit against his high school alma mater which, until early this month, had been his employer.

Billman, who resides in nearby Allentown also in northeast Pennsylvania, says he "was subjected to a barrage of racist and discriminatory conduct," during his four-year tenure as a coach, according to LehighValleyLive.com.

Billman seeks back pay, front pay, punitive damages, compensatory damages and attorney fees in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of the United States.

District Superintendent David Piperato said the district hasn't been served with the lawsuit yet.

"We look forward to reviewing the claim with our counsel and vigorously defending the district against any and all accusations of racism," he said Wednesday.

Piperato issued a statement Tuesday after Billman's rally saying Billman wasn't technically fired. He wasn't invited back when his contract lapsed but can apply for the vacant position if he wants to. Billman's last day at work was May 29, the lawsuit says.

Piperato blamed the coaching decision on "numerous problems including rules compliance, overall management of the program and general leadership," not racial animus against Billman.

By contrast, Billman claimed that he had an adversarial relationship with athletic director James Pokrivsak who "proudly identified himself as a racist," according to the lawsuit. Billman blamed Pokrivsak for blocking a raise and preventing him from getting equipment he requested.

As the York Dispatch reported June 7, this is not the first time "the controversy has found the Easton Area School District for a second time in two years regarding wrestling coach JaMarr Billman."

A number of individuals came to a protest last Friday to consider action concerning Billman's firing...including some members of the Easton wrestling program who are supportive of Billman.

"We're all lost dogs now," rising junior Braxton Appello, one of three Easton state medalists in 2020 under Billman, said. "We don't have our leader anymore. In every aspect I'm better now than I was two years ago thanks to [Billman]. The girls love him. Many of us love him."

JaMarr Billman offered his unique perspective on the situation in an exclusive interview with The Morning Call, the Allentown community newspaper:

"As a minority coach, I experienced pains and hurdles by the athletic department and administration that no other coach faced," Billman said. "I thought in 2018 that Easton could not discriminate against me, as I was an alumni and former student-athlete.

"In 2020, I truly believe that I was discriminated [against] due to the color of my skin."

Easton wrestling has a long legacy of success. The Rovers rank second all-time in Pennsylvania with 968 victories ... while, in his four years as coach at his alma mater, compiled a 42-26 record.

Comments

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DannyClarke (1) about 6 months ago
If you have been following the program and Billman you can tell he was clearly discriminated against. You aren't going to find a guy who is more qualified to coach. 3x NCAA All American (would've been 4 but lost a year of eligibility). PLUS - He is an Alumni of the Easton wrestling program.

In 2018 one of his wrestler's grandfather assaulted him because the kid didn't make weight. (Not the coaches fault) he called him a derogatory slur. The school responded by FIRING Billman then.

Only to rehire him due to backlash. It was only a matter of time before they tried to force him out again.

Guy is an alumnus and more technical than 99.9% of high school coaches. The AD had a grudge with him. It definitely isn't about qualifications.
ban basketball (1) about 6 months ago
I admire like heck that he didn't feel the need to show his intelligence and fight back, but it's gotta hurt an outstanding wrestler's pride just a tad to say that a grandpa beat me up.