Here’s a full transcript of Cody Stavenhagen’s interview with former St. Gregory’s University track and cross country coach Matt Aguero, who was fired after running the 2014 Boston Marathon.
What initially compelled you to record that meeting and share your story with Deadspin. What was the process and the thought process for you?
I was terminated that morning, Wednesday morning at a 10 a.m. meeting and so obviously when you’re fired and it’s kind of shocking, I was pretty emotional and I said, ‘Will you guys give me some time to process it?’ I said, ‘Will you guys give me some time to calm down and act logically? I have a lot of questions and I want to calm down and ask them properly.’
We met again at 3 o’clock, and by that time I had come up with a lot of questions. I was like, ‘This is really strange, what’s going on?’ so I wanted to document everything. That’s why I recorded that conversation. I made sure, I looked up Oklahoma law, I made sure I was doing everything legal, so that’s the main (reason) I recorded it.
And then as far as going to Deadspin, I’m definitely not a guy to want publicity. 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. What had happened, just in general, I was fired for running the Boston Marathon is what I was originally told, and later I was fired without cause.
So that’s kind of what … Actually Runner’s World had seen my post, or a lady that had ties with Runner’s World, and she sent it to them. A reporter called me from Runner’s’ World — they were originally going to do it but felt it was a little too sensitive for their website. So that’s when Deadspin, the reporter sent it to another guy that had done a lot of running articles for Deadspin. That’s how Deadspin got involved.
OK, so how exactly were you initially told you were being fired?
I was called Tuesday afternoon and asked to come in Wednesday morning to meet with the HR director, Cheri Boyd. When I came in there, her and Dr. Potter were in there and that’s when I was initially told.
So you ran the marathon the previous year, and there was an issue with that?
Yes. I had ran the previous year, and Dr. Potter did not want me to go. He suspended me, he sent me a letter, put a letter in my file, I responded to that letter. And that’s actually in the Deadspin article and that’s some of what his reasons were. Last year, the Boston Marathon is always held on a Monday. I had given him more than three weeks’ notice, which was in the student handbook, and one of the reasons was he felt like he needed more notice than he got.
It was a weekend we were off. We didn’t have a track meet. I didn’t miss anything. The only thing I missed was that Monday. The school was open, we did have practice, my assistant coaches handled that. So I understood where he was coming from. He didn’t want me missing practice. So I was actually planning on running the Oklahoma City marathon on a Sunday or something where I wouldn’t miss anything. It just so happened that the Boston Marathon fell on Easter weekend. And I really wanted to run Boston. 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 it would be a really special event.
So since it fell on Easter weekend, at St. Gregory’s we’re out of school on Thursday, Friday and Monday. Well, the conference meet was Friday and Saturday. I coached the conference meet, I flew out Sunday morning to Boston, ran the race Monday morning and then flew back after the race. And I actually had practice Tuesday morning. So 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.
And you essentially end up getting fired for that? Do you think that’s the reason you were fired, or is there something else to it? Some kind of alternative motive, or do you have any idea?
I really have no idea. I don’t know. I don’t want to speculate. But to be honest, I really do not know why I was fired. I thought I was doing a good job. I think everybody makes mistakes. I think I probably made some mistakes along the way. There was some things I could have done better. But at no time was I ever called in and said, ‘This part of your job you could do better. Try to do that.’
No time did that happen. I feel like if you’re going to fire somebody, there should be times where you give them chances to correct what they’re doing wrong. And that was never the case.
So that you know of, you never had any other issues with Dr. Potter or anyone else beyond the 2013 Marathon?
No. If you listen to the whole audio, it feels like he’s just trying to stretch. He gets on my case about letting a guy, one of our international athletes, go back to France, where his grandfather was dying. So it seems like there’s a bunch of things that he was stretching on.