2 coaches suspended after LGBTQ charity basketball game

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YONKERS -

Two high school coaches were suspended after appearing at a charity basketball game that raised money for the LGBTQ community.

Saunders High School varsity basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo allowed his team to participate in a January charity game against rival Somers to raise money for GLSEN, a nonprofit organization for LGBTQ youth. The game was not sanctioned by the state.

The one-game suspension for Nicodemo and Somers head coach Chris Dicintio boils down to paperwork, according to Section 1. But Nicodemo, who is openly gay, says past charity games have never been a problem.

"To not be there to lead my student athletes onto the court, it's heartbreaking, and it's wrong," Nicodemo says. "You have an event that embraces inclusion, that embraces diversity, that's what you choose to go after? People are going to question it."

The New York State United Teachers union has come to the coaches' defense, saying it suspects discrimination in the disciplinary actions and that it urges the state to overturn its decision. GLSEN and former NBA player Jason Collins have tweeted their support.

Also among the supporters is Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

"I completely support the coach," Spano says. "I think what he has done here in Yonkers has been remarkable."

Section 1 tells News 12 in a statement that it "fully supports the 'Pride on the Court' message and is proud that two of our schools stepped up to be involved. Hopefully, next year, authorization will be sought, and will be gladly granted, to any teams seeking to play in the same event."

Still, Nicodemo says he's not convinced that discrimination played no role in the suspension.

"You want to say, let's hope it's not homophobia, but the bottom line is, I know the world we live in," he says.

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