ATTLEBORO — The “Help wanted” sign is up at Bishop Feehan High School again for a football coach.
Bishop Feehan High has terminated its relationship with Athletic Director and football coach Gary Doherty.
In an unexpected move that caught the Bishop Feehan High community, and the greater Attleboro area football family off guard, Doherty declined to accept a lesser position and become a faculty member, with a significant salary cut.
Doherty was in his second tenure as the Bishop Feehan High football coach, having been summoned three years ago to return to Holcott Drive by outgoing Athletic Director and former football coach Paul O’Boy, having served in a similar duel position as athletic director and head football coach at Framingham High School.
“Gary decided to move on,” Bishop Feehan High School President Tim Sullivan said in a statement. “We wish him luck in all future endeavors. ‘Fired’ is not correct. From our end, I’m confident we will have a really good solution for that opening as soon as next week. The program is in really great shape.”
Doherty becomes the third Bishop Feehan High coach directing a major sport to be relieved of his duties over the past two seasons.
“Gary Doherty was the embodiment of what Bishop Feehan stands for — sanctity, scholarship and sportsmanship,” Mike Cataldo, class of 1998 and Harvard University, said. “I’m one of a bunch of guys who feel this week, you can’t handpick someone better than Gary as your AD and football coach.
“To me, I’m really disappointed with the direction that the administration is taking. This is troublesome, this is head-scratching.
In addition to Doherty, Bishop Feehan High grad Matt Freeman, who took the Shamrock boys’ basketball team to the MIAA Tournament in 13 of his 17 seasons, was dismissed following the 2017-18 season. Freeman, now living in Medway, served as an assistant coach at Dover-Sherborn High last winter for the Raiders, who claimed the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional and state titles.
Mike Deady served as the Bishop Feehan High girls’ basketball coach for 19 seasons, taking the Shamrocks to the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional and state championships in 2016, but at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, Deady and Bishop Feehan had a mutual parting of the ways.
“If Mike Deady is not a coach at Bishop Feehan, it’s a disappointing day,” Cataldo said of the roster of former Shamrock coaches. “It’s very disheartening.”
“Gary will take the honorable way out,” former Bishop Feehan High (class of ‘94) and WPI football standout Nate Cote said in response to Doherty’s leave. Cote, along with Mike Cataldo, Chris Servant, Mike Cassidy and Mike Yurof, serve as members of the Bishop Feehan High nominating committee to the Greater Attleboro Area Football Hall of Fame.
“I know Gary very well and I know Matt (Freeman) very well,” Cote said “and the guys on Gary’s staff (assistant coaches) know firsthand what went on. This would have never happened with the “old guard.” This is not the Bishop Feehan High that I know, that a lot of former Shamrock athletes know.
“The culture is changing there. The teachers at Bishop Feehan High are totally committed to that school, they’re not making a lot of money,” Cote added. “To see that Bishop Feehan meant so much to Gary (Doherty) for him to come back, and for them to do that is garbage.”
According to sources, Doherty was offered to serve as an assistant athletic director, remain as head football coach and become a member of the faculty with a reduction in salary.
Doherty guided the Shamrocks to the MIAA playoffs in both of his seasons, with Feehan compiling a 7-4 record in 2017 and a 6-5 mark in 2018, including wins over both Attleboro High and North Attleboro High.
“Any day that you don’t want Gary Doherty around, there is something wrong,” Cataldo said. “I played for him, I’ve known him for 20 years — there is not a better guy to be leading the next generation of Bishop Feehan student-athletes.
“When I was at Bishop Feehan, you could chart the school by the men and women who led the athletic department,” Cataldo said of Peter Galligan, Neil Loew, Anne Carroll, Paul O’Boy, Bob L’Homme among others. “Gary Doherty was cut from that cloth.”
At the time of Doherty’s dismissal, the head football coaching position was offered to all of his assistant coaches, who declined to accept the position. In addition, a number of other former coaches associated with the Bishop Feehan High program, or with ties to the greater Attleboro area, have been contacted to fill the post.
In the meantime, Bishop Feehan High boys’ lacrosse coach and faculty member Christian Schatz will assume the role of athletic director.
Doherty had served as the Shamrocks’ head football coach during the 1996 and 1997 seasons as well before leaving to become head football coach and a physical education teacher at Framingham High School. He started that position in 1998 before taking over as the school’s athletic director in 2002.
“I know that Matt (Freeman) did things the right way and to see him get treated like that is not the way that the old guard would do things,” Cote said. “He (Doherty) did a good job.”
Bishop Feehan has now relieved three football coaches from duty over the years. In addition to Doherty, Bishop Feehan terminated services with Joe Gilmartin and Robb McCoy.
“I was a senior when they let Joe (Gilmartin) go and I know how unsettling that was for all the returning members of the football team,” Cote said. “I feel bad for those kids. You don’t force the guy out and try to spin it. Gary (Doherty) is the epitome of what you want for an athletic director and football coach.”