SHAWNEE — Matt Aguero was fired as St. Gregory’s University track and cross country coach for running the Boston Marathon after he was told not to by athletic director Jeff Potter.
Aguero, who began coaching at St. Gregory’s in 2012, told The Oklahoman on Thursday he asked for time to compose his thoughts after his initial firing at a 10 a.m. meeting with Potter and human resources director Cheri Boyd. Aguero decided to record his follow-up meeting that afternoon.
“I wanted to document everything,” Aguero said. “That’s why I recorded that conversation. I made sure, I looked up Oklahoma law, I made sure I was doing everything legal.”
The firing was first reported by the Deadspin.com, a sports news and commentary web site. The Deadspin article details the April 23 termination from the NAIA school, complete with a 38-minute audio recording of a meeting between Aguero, Potter and Boyd.
In the recording, Aguero asks if the Boston Marathon is the reason for his firing. Boyd responded, “That was what (Potter) came to me with.”
It wasn’t the first time the Boston Marathon was an issue.
Potter suspended Aguero after he missed a day of practice to run the 2013 Boston Marathon. Ageuro said he met with Potter on Feb. 23 of this year to ask why he couldn’t run the 2014 marathon. Potter again said it was because Aguero would miss work.
However, after finding out this year’s marathon was on Easter weekend, Aguero decided to run without notifying Potter. The university was closed the Thursday and Friday before and Monday after Easter.
Aguero ran the marathon on April 21, finishing in 2 hours, 35 minutes and 33 seconds. He arrived back in Shawnee in time for morning practice on April 22.
“I really wanted to run Boston,” Aguero said. “I was bummed out that I wasn’t going to be able to, or I thought I wasn’t go to be able to, but just because of everything that happened last year (bombing) it would be a really special event.
“I didn’t miss any school time, no practice, the campus was basically closed down. No one was there. Maybe a couple of international students. So that’s why I didn’t think it would be an issue this year.”
After finding out Aguero ran the marathon, Potter decided to terminate Aguero. In the recording, Aguero asks if he would have been fired had he spent the weekend at his mother’s house in Poteau. Potter told him no.
In the meeting, Potter expressed concern about Aguero’s personal ambitions interfering with his work. He also voiced unhappiness about Aguero allowing French runner Vivien Majorel to leave St. Gregory’s to be with his dying grandfather in France.
Potter spent 22 years as a former track and cross country coach at the NAIA and NCAA levels. His coaching stops included Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma Baptist, where he was dismissed for "personal and professional reasons" in 1990.
After his firing, Aguero said he began receiving several calls, emails and texts asking what happened. He decided to explain on Facebook.
Aguero said a reporter from runnersworld.com saw the post and began to report on the story. After the website decided it was too sensitive, the reporter passed it on to Deadspin.
“I’m definitely not a guy to want publicity,” Aguero said. “I’m kind of laid back and like to be in the shadows. So what happened was I kept getting calls and text and emails from people finding out what was going on, so I finally just posted on Facebook.”
St. Gregory’s released a statement Thursday afternoon: “It is not our policy to specifically discuss personnel issues. Please be advised that Mr. Aguero was released under the terms and conditions of his contract with the University. Any personnel decisions of the University are not made lightly.”
University officials denied The Oklahoman’s requests for comments. Potter and Boyd did not return calls.