BRADENTON -- Rene Mirandilla had been the head boys soccer coach at Manatee High for the past 32 years, making him the school's dean of coaches.
He will not return next year and says he is angry because he was fired.
"I expected to be treated better," the 60-year-old Mirandilla said. "I got fired. It had nothing to do with my coaching. I have had winning seasons every year and been to the playoffs every year. They are trying to make it look like I stepped down, but I didn't."
Mirandilla's record is impressive. He has compiled a 424-192-66 mark since he took over the program in 1980, coached two high school All-Americans and said he got more than 20 players scholarships to play college soccer.
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Joe Kinnan, Manatee High's athletic director and head football coach, doesn't dispute Mirandilla's contributions to the soccer program. He disagrees with Mirandilla's characterization of the end of his tenure.
"Two years ago, we came up with an exit plan to keep the continuity of the program that we mutually agreed upon,"
Kinnan said. "We had some people we wanted to keep to take over the program and felt if the head job didn't become available they would leave. We reminded him (Mirandilla) of that again last year. I think he forgot or changed his mind."
Kinnan said the school prefers to have on-campus teachers as head coaches and has that in Colby West, who has been named to replace Mirandilla.
West, one of Mirandilla's assistants last season, is a 2004 Manatee High graduate. He earned first-team all-state honors as a soccer goalie and was staring quarterback for the football team, finishing his career in 2003 under former coach Howie DeCristofaro.
Mirandilla plans to retire in three years and said he wanted to coach until then.
He said Manatee's new principal, Don Sauer, honored a decision made by the previous administration to terminate him. Sauer did not return several calls made to his office.
"I hope it's not because I am old because I am not old," Mirandilla said. "They said they wanted somebody young and were afraid my assistant (Colby West) might leave. I am bitter because of the way they terminated me. I worked here for 32 years, have been dedicated and didn't do anything wrong."
Kinnan, who has been Manatee's head football coach for 28 seasons, said age had nothing to do with Mirandilla not coaching anymore.
"Coaching supplements are at the discretion of the principal and you don't need just cause not to renew one," Kinnan said. "We looked at all the options and gave him an extra two years to coach. Colby had an opportunity to take a college job. He was already on our faculty, and we didn't want to lose him. Rene agreed two years ago that this was the best way to do the transition. We have new boys basketball coach and softball coach. These things happen."
Mirandilla said school administrators wanted it to look like he left gracefully and his conscience won't allow him to go along with that.
"I thought the new principal would keep me, but when we finished the region quarterfinals they called me in and said I was terminated," Mirandilla said. "I can't lie. I am an honest person. They sent out a press release that I stepped down and that's not true. I was fired."