A popular Bronx Science High School cross-country coach was canned this week for telling girls to “run like you’re being chased by a rapist,” and they’re angry — because they want him back.
Ken Miller, 76, admitted to the ill-advised quip but said he was simply trying to motivate his squad and did not intend to be offensive. “It was very inappropriate, and I realize now that it was the wrong way to motivate a team,” said Miller, who began teaching at the elite high school in 1973.
Infuriated team members have sprinted to their “caring and conscientious” coach’s defense since his firing and are demanding his return.
“I was not offended at all,” said a current runner. “I’ve been on the team for four years, and I love him.”
“He is a harmless man that was essential to the cross-country experience at Bronx Science,” said a teammate.
“They didn’t even bother looking at the history this man has, and all they saw was an old man making a supposedly inflammatory comment.”
Yet another backer on the team noted that Miller had a sterling 40-year coaching history. “There is no reason he should not be with this team,” she said.
Miller claims that vengeful school brass used the incident to railroad him for whistleblowing on a colleague for questionable conduct with members of the team.
Miller first told administrators in 2015 that an assistant coach, Charles Goldberg, was creeping out female runners with excessive massages and touching. An internal probe cleared Goldberg that year, and he was allowed to continue coaching.
Miller flagged Goldberg’s behavior again last year — and this time a Special Commissioner of Investigation report substantiated some of the claims and he resigned.
Miller claims school bosses targeted him for reporting Goldberg — also an admired coach who denied the accusations — and for attracting bad publicity. “It became clear to me that at Bronx Science, following DOE guidelines and reporting inappropriate behavior results in negative consequences,” he said.
Days after his freshman team placed first in an event last month, Miller was abruptly told that he was suspended. Administrators then brought three raps against him, including the rape comment. He was also accused of not reporting a runner who could not finish a race and for starting practices too early.
Miller — who admitted to the off-color comment but denied the other raps — said he did not deserve to be fired.
“I have spent more than half my life teaching and coaching there,” Miller said. “I don’t want to tear it down. I want to let the public know the things that have been going on in one of the most prestigious high schools in the country.”
A Department of Education spokesman dismissed Miller’s claims of retaliation.
“Mr. Miller’s behavior was inappropriate and offensive, and he was terminated,” said Michael Aciman. “We take allegations of misconduct seriously, and any suggestion that he was disciplined for other reasons is completely false.”