The school launched an internal investigation concerning the use of the ineligible players and found out that nine players who saw action in the first game of the year were allegedly ineligible to play, not receiving clearance from the school or the NCAA Clearinghouse, which determines a student/athlete's eligibility.
Because he had received a warning, according to a source in the school,
before the game not to use the players, then in turn did anyway, Kochman was terminated and replaced by assistant coach Chris Taylor.
Incredibly, Taylor guided the Peacocks to a 19-9 win over Hartwick last Saturday, just one day after Kochman's firing.
SPC athletic director Bill Stein said in a statement that the school had reported the violation to the NCAA.
"We are steadfastly committed to conducting our program in accordance with all NCAA rules, and we are dealing with this situation proactively," Stein said. "We are conducting a thorough investigation and will self-report based on our findings. We are confident that Coach Chris Taylor, his assistants and our players will pull together. St. Peter's College remains committed to our football team, and we will give the coaches and players our full support as they move forward."
Kochman, who coached the Peacocks to a 2-8 record last year in his first year as head coach, replacing Rob Stern (now at Hudson Catholic), is maintaining that the school's administration and the admissions office were at fault for not helping to get his players eligible in time for the season opener.
But the bottom line is this: If Kochman was told that these players were ineligible by Stein, then guess what? They were ineligible. Case closed.
Stein is the boss and Kochman is, or better yet, was, the subordinate. Regardless of what Kochman believed, those kids were not cleared to play by the school or the athletic administration, so they shouldn't have been dressed and on the field.
He can put whatever spin he would like on the situation, blaming Stein, the school's compliance officer, and faulting the admissions office. But he's way wrong and it cost him his job.
Kochman has been calling many members of the media, trying to sing his case and seeing if anyone would write a seething piece about everyone and anyone at the Harvard on the Boulevard, for the injustice he believes he received.
But every single football coach that SPC employed, going back to the days of the legendary Joe Coviello right on to Kochman, had to endure eligibility woes. All the prior coaches had to make sure that financial aid forms were filed and proper transcripts were processed and students were registered for class.
Especially since SPC went to NCAA Division I-AA status a decade ago, it made academic requirements that much more stringent. Kochman knew what he had to do over the summer to get this team on the field. When he was warned before kickoff that the kids were not eligible to play, that should have been enough.
He told other local papers the players all had their necessary paperwork done and should have been eligible. Ah, should is the operative word. Perhaps they should have been eligible. But in reality, without clearance from the school, they were not.
As much as St. Peter's College, and Stein for that matter, has mishandled a lot of other situations in the past, this one seems pretty clear cut.
However, there should have been some warning signs when Kochman presented his preseason roster that included the names of 70 players, and 53 of them were true freshmen. What's up with that? How can any college football team try to compete with that many first-year players? What happened to all the returning players? Did they all just decide to drop out from SPC and transfer somewhere else?
Once Kochman presented that roster, the investigation should have begun.
And here's one last item about the whole scenario. When will the powers-that-be at Harvard on the Boulevard realize that football just doesn't work? After all, the school dropped the sport twice (in 1983 and 1988) and has endured so many losing seasons. Other than the 10-2 year produced, albeit miraculously, by Stern and his staff a few years ago, the football program at SPC has been a complete disaster.
This is just another chapter of a program gone wrong. It may be time to cut all ties and move on, just like other MAAC schools like Fairfield, Siena and Canisius did in recent years.
Whatever the case, it didn't give the school any positive recognition when they fire a coach just one week into the season.
However, no one can point the finger at Stein in this case, like the disposed coach is trying to do. It's not working.
Crying as an insubordinate is not flattering.