Joe Kinnan speaks out about school district at fiery press conference

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Coach Joe Kinnan is known for his defensive ingenuity on the football field. But on Wednesday he went on the defensive against the Manatee County School District.

Joe Kinnan was under investigation by the district, accused of improperly steering school funds to a business owned by former Manatee High baseball coach Dwayne Strong.

Since then, Kinnan has resigned as Athletic Director and Head Coach. And he says he's not only innocent of any wrongdoing, but he wants to one day be back on the sidelines at the field that bears his name.

“I was shocked that the district leadership would go to such great lengths, and be given so much leeway, to target and marginalize employees, instead of focusing on education.”

The former Manatee High head coach blew the whistle on Superintendent Rick Mills, saying the district's leader has launched a full scale smear attack on his reputation. “So much time, effort, and resources are being wasted on personal and political agendas instead of education.”

Kinnan stepped away from the sidelines earlier this summer, when doctors advised him to take a year off due to stress and anxiety resulting from the district's investigation.

Kinnan says he never intended to take more than a year off. Now, he has been permanently replaced. “In essence, my medical conditions and the treatment by the unscrupulous actions of the district leadership have forced me to give up my life's passion of being a football coach at Manatee.”

Kinnan's brother Harry, a former long-time Manatee School Board member, is also frustrated by the district’s leadership. “I'm certainly disappointed with what's happened to Manatee and my brother because of their aggressive pursuits.”

Manatee County Schools Superintendent Rick Mills released the following statement Wednesday in response to Kinnan's press conference:

"I want to congratulate Coach Joe Kinnan on his Hall of Fame career at Manatee High School and I thank him for the positive impact he has had on thousands of young people in our community. His coaching record of 290 victories, 27 district titles and five state championships over the course of nearly three decades is an example of sustained excellence on the football field. However, we cannot comment on any pending administrative complaints.”