By Phil Anastasia
Delsea's Sal Marchese, one of South Jersey's most successful football coaches, has been placed on administrative leave pending a Board of Education investigation into possible academic misconduct, a source close to the situation told The Inquirer on Friday.
Marchese has been Delsea's football coach for the last 21 seasons.
He was named the Brooks Irvine Memorial Football Club's Coach of the Year after last season, when Delsea won its second consecutive South Jersey Group 3 championship.
The administrative leave, which is a suspension with pay, stems from accusations of irregularities in testing in a health and physical education class in November, according to the source.
The Sentinel of Gloucester County, a weekly newspaper based in Malaga, reported in this week's edition that Delsea Board of Education president Mario Christina made a motion during the public session of a special meeting Jan. 18 to continue Marchese's administrative leave to allow for further investigation.
The board approved Christina's motion, the paper reported.
Christina was not available for comment Friday.
The source close to the situation said the situation stems from allegations that a football player took a test in a health and physical education class for another football player in November.
The source also said there was an effort to "cover up" the misconduct.
Delsea superintendent, Dr. Piera Gravenor, said Friday that she could not comment on the matter because it is a personnel issue.
Marchese and Delsea athletic director Steve Iles also were not available for comment.
It's not clear if Delsea's 2013 South Jersey Group 3 sectional title would be in jeopardy if it was determined that an academically ineligible player participated in the state tournament.
NJSIAA assistant director Larry White, who oversaw the South Jersey football tournament, said the NJSIAA's academic eligibility standards are tied to credits.
White said if a student athlete has earned 30 credits in the previous school year, then he or she is eligible for fall and winter sports.
Under that critieria, academic misconduct in November would not impact an athlete's eligiblity to participate in the football state tournament under NJSIAA rules.
"If this was a credit situation, then it would fall in our lap and we would investigate," White said. "If it's a GPA (grade point average) situation, that's something for as district to look at internally."
Marchese has a 167-51-1 record. His teams have won six South Jersey championships, including four in the last six seasons (2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013).
Delsea was 10-2 last season and beat Barnegat 31-7 in the South Jersey Group 3 title game.
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