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Navy fans launch petition to fire AD over how football coach was fired

Navy football players huddle up before kickoff against Army on December 10, 2022. (Photo by Liz George)
December 14, 2022

Fans of the U.S. Naval Academy are circulating a petition to remove Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk for abruptly firing Navy football Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo after the Army-Navy game.

Gladchuk allegedly fired Niumatalolo in the locker room immediately after the Navy team’s 20-17 loss to Army at the 123rd Army-Navy game on Saturday.

This week, Navy fan Zachary Wiltold started a petition called “Fire Chet Gladchuk” with a goal of garnering 1,500 signatures. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had already garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

The petition states:

The handling of the firing of Coach Ken Niumatalolo by the Naval Academy Athletic Association has been unanimously received by fans, donors, alumni, former players and former staff as unequivocally inappropriate and not in keeping with the long standing traditions of the storied Naval Academy Football program. 

It was not in the best interest of the program, the players, or that of the Academy as an institution , and was a culminating  mishandling in a series of outlandish, inappropriate and uncalled for decisions that have been made by the association’s director, Chet Gladchuk. This petition calls to the immediate removal of Mr. Gladchuk as the Naval Academy’s Athletic Director, an immediate investigative audit to be conducted into the NAAA’s proceedings, and most importantly, the immediate reinstatement of Ken Niumatalolo as the Head Coach of the Naval Academy Football Program. 

Outside of Saturday’s loss to West Point, the Navy Midshipmen have gone 11-23 over their last three football seasons and have had only one winning season in the last five years.

In a press conference, Gladchuk said Niumatalolo had fallen short of two key goals: winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy and qualifying for post-season bowl games, neither of which the Navy has done since 2019.

“That’s been the constant bar we strive for, is to achieve those two goals, which I believe are very realistic, very reasonable and have been consistent for 20 years and therefore this does not come as any surprise,” Gladchuk said, adding that Niumatalolo was informed of the expectations “without any question of a doubt.”

Though he presided over recent losing seasons, Niumatalolo had the best winning record in the Navy football program’s history, with 109 wins and 83 losses over the course of 15 seasons.

In an interview with ESPN after his firing Niumatalolo said he had been sitting alone by his locker after the game when Gladchuk fired him.

“First of all, we just got kicked in the gut,” Niumatalolo said. “I was a little bit numb prior to him saying that, so most of it I couldn’t comprehend. I’m just like, ‘Chet, why don’t you take some time to relax.’ He said, ‘Well, it’s been building up.’”