Frank Lenti reveals his side of tumultuous separation with Mount Carmel

Former Mount Carmel football coach Frank Lenti invited reporters to his house Thursday in South Holland.

Lenti, who is recovering from hip surgery, sat at his dining room table and told the story of what happened Dec. 28, when the Mount Carmel administration pushed him out.

‘‘I don’t want to hurt the school,’’ Lenti said. ‘‘I don’t want to hurt the program. I don’t want to hurt [new coach] Jordan [Lynch]. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I just want to be able to tell my version of the story.’’

Lenti said Mount Carmel president Ned Hughes gave him a copy of the news release that said he was retiring.

‘‘They told me [Lynch] was in, and I was out,’’ Lenti said. ‘‘I looked at the [news] release and said: ‘I’m not retiring. You are in charge of the school. If you want to fire me, that is your prerogative.’ ’’

Lenti said he offered to mentor Lynch for a year, but Hughes said no. The news release also said Lenti would remain employed at the school in the development department, but he has decided to resign from that position.

‘‘I signed a separation agreement with the school [Wednesday night],’’ Lenti said. ‘‘I’m not an employee after Feb. 7.’’

Lenti, a 1969 Mount Carmel graduate, is the winningest football coach in Illinois history (374-77). He has won 11 state championships, had a streak of 11 consecutive Catholic League championships and won six Prep Bowl titles. He was hired in 1984.

Lenti said he is hurt and puzzled by the school’s decision to push him out.

‘‘I was part of the school for 40 years,’’ Lenti said. ‘‘Our staff coached 451 games in 34 years and never had a three-game losing streak.

‘‘The biggest thing is there is a sadness because I know I won’t have a chance to make a positive impact on the kids. There has been a lot of emotional distress. I’m disheartened, angry, still running the gamut.’’

Lenti received several high-profile job offers through the years, but he always stayed loyal to Mount Carmel. He even turned down Lou Holtz and Notre Dame twice.

Even now, Lenti said he is best-suited to the high school level.

‘‘I view myself as making a greater impact on kids at the high school age,’’ Lenti said. ‘‘Football was a vehicle to making our kids better. We teach our youngsters about life through football.’’

Lenti has another hip surgery planned in the spring but is open to a coaching position next fall.

‘‘I do not feel like I’m done coaching,’’ he said.

Lenti has returned to Mount Carmel once since he was let go. He spoke with his seniors and with Lynch. He clearly still loves the school and wishes Lynch success, but he also has a point to make.

‘‘Sometimes people take success for granted,’’ Lenti said.

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35 comments

  • Bill

    It would be something if he turned up at a big time catholic school…. oh say Joliet Catholic . 🤑

  • Glenn Patrick Smith (Rocky)

    I am aghast that an institution that emphasized honor and integrity, at least throughout my tenure,(’65-’69) would act in such a reprehensible manner. Frank has demonstrated a commitment to the Mt. Carmel community which may never be equaled. The current president appears to endear himself to callous subterfuge. I would hope that “our” 50th” reunion will rise above. …see you next year!

  • Roll Tide

    They should truly be ashamed of the way they treated Frank.I will always love MC but it will be sad not to see the greatest High School football coach on the sideline any more God Bless you Frank never will for get the impact you made on me Thanks.

  • Roll Tide

    Frank Lenti is one of the most upstanding coaches i have ever played for.He loves the kids and there families he is truly a great mentor and friend.My dad was involved in the football program for over 30 some years he is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

  • Patrick

    When I read Ned and Frank spoke of a succession plan I was convinced Ned was a wise and visionary leader inviting the legendary Frank into the process as a full participant and author. It was a very fair and enlightened move by Ned. There can be only one boss in a Catholic school and the president is the leader thinking five years ahead for the good of the school. Frank gave everything to keep MC afloat and solvent but Ned sensed more was needed at this point in MC’s history.

  • Patrick

    interesting reading all the comments about impact on kids. MC has always been the finest example of how crime pays dividends. getting alumni to write tuition checks or buying key players subverting IHSA rules shows how crime pays! what a life lesson!

  • Arthur C. Munin Jr.

    I consider myself active alumni (1969), as do my two brothers (Edward 1972 and Eugene 1977) as was my dad (Arthur Sr. 1944) until his death last October. We could not put in to words our appreciation and affection to Frank for all his hard work to make Mt. Carmel the best school in the Chicagoland area. I think Mr. Ned Hughes, who orchestrated this mess, should be fired. Thank you Mike O’Brien for getting the story out.

  • Walking on Carmel shells

    How about our staff? The ever-undependable and clueless Ned cleaned house last year! Maryhelen, Tierney, Bogucki, Wilhemi, Padre (he had to go), NYDIA- demoted Stimler and Goolsby, promoted Mr. Happy… then they messed with Pete? And a bunch left… McGovern, Enright , Nissen, Dara… We are going to have a tough time keeping teachers in the building, including me. We let anyone in and our academics are weaker by the day. Up until recently, last fall, when I wore my MC Brown in public, people would always say something flattering about the school. Just the other day someone saw me and said, “Brown’s the right color for that place, now.” I am ashamed to work here. I feel bad for the kids. We have to idiots running the show into the ground.

    • It's a Shame

      It is so weird. We alums talked about the gutting of staff last summer. Didn’t know if Ned and Haggerty knew what they were doing. If they can treat Frank so shamefully in public, and lie about it, I can only imagine what they do to the staff behind doors. It seems like they knew, and know, what they are doing after all. It seems they think they are rebuilding. But the way they are “rebuilding” it…. They won’t come. MC is dying.

      • Patrick

        i dont think MC is dying. There can be only one leader (boss) in a school. Wonder how many times administrators were forced to ask the question “what will Lenti think of this development or change.” Can’t run a good school that way!

  • South Side Bear

    There is something missing. Disagreement on a succession plan can not be the only reason that Coach Frank dismissed by Mount Carmel. Firing a legend because he wanted to stay one more year to mentor Jordan Lynch is insane. Ned Hughes is not telling the whole story. Neither is Coach Frank. What else is going with Mount Carmel? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  • DeJordy

    How about some reporting? Obviously the school had concerns. What were they?

    • South Side Bear

      i would like to know those concerns as well. Someone posted in the comment section that kids were being mistreated by the coaching staff. I want to know what else is going on behind the scenes. Ned Hughes owes the Mount Carmel alumni a full explanation of what is going on.

  • PistolPete44

    Go read the latest CTE story in the Washington post on Jan..25th about how all you current and future Parents look the other way when comes to some pretty clear evidence that just banging the head in football games leads to serious damage to the brain causing mood problems, learning issues, and did I almost forget CTE with is horribly bad. Wake up Parents, stop living you life thru football wins at your old school and be kind to your kid, stop playing football

  • Bill Adams

    Frank taught me at ST Francis de Sales before going to MC. What an impact he made on me and many others.MC does not deserve such a man mentor snd coach good luck MC God Bless You Frank you are the best Chicago High School football has ever had!

  • Paco Lopez

    Mont Carmel’s loss is going to be another Catholic high schools ganeFrank’s a legend hopefully he goes to a school that really needs him and he can turn that school into a powerhouse Frank thank you for all you done for all the Spanish boys That came to MC, WE really appreciate you

  • John Kearns

    Some of the larger benafactors should have a word with Ned!

  • Jan Brecka

    Frank Lenti is the best! Shame on you Ned Hughes!

  • Jimmy Jones

    not saying how this was handled was good but look at this from another point of view. Complaints were coming in about coach picking on certain kids. Parents were pulling kids out of Mount Carmel because of the way their son was being treated by the football program. Coach is responsible for that program, Hughes is responsible for the school. Yes as I said should have been handled a lot better but it was time for coach to go. Wish Jordan nothing but the best of luck and hope my son will play for him.

    • OLMC

      Puleeze do not insult our intelligence. Picking on kids?? Whats next throw out the bully term, the humiliated term? Look if people were pulling their kids out of Mt. Carmel so be it, they have been doing that for over 60 years. The place is not for everyone. you were not invited to MC for the place to be like you want it, it is for you to be like they want it. If not no hard feelings you can leave. You come in as a boy and leave as a man, nut it is not for everyone and quite frankly if it was so bad they would not have such success like last year, kids the lower levels have a bunch of talent so those kids came there knowing the deal. All the President had to say was Frank we are making a move in the best interest of the program. You can coach 1 more year and we are bringing in Jordan Lynch as your assistant head coach like Purdue Basketball did. Then Frank could have said yes or no and the story would have changed. Instead they lie and say he is retiring. Sorry your snow flakes didnt enjoy Mt, Carmel they will not be missed

    • Mike

      It’s not only time for this coach to go. They need to look into other sports as well. Kids first, not coaches ego’s!!!!!

  • Wayne Garritano

    As a classmate, as a father of a son who played for Frank, as an alumni who was proud to be an alumni, I’m still startled by this. I can not believe that the president of the school feels that the way he handled this was in the best interest of the school first of all, the students and athletes who would wonder why this happened this way, the parents who trusted their sons care to the coaches ,teachers and administrators and finally ,the alumni who strongly support the school. I believe the president, Mr. Hughes, should explain his actions in an open forum to all who believe, believed in the school and what it stood for. He owes it to us, the people who truly love the school, he owes it to Frank Lenti. Frank Lenti deserved to go out on his terms, He earned that right through his sacrifice and hard work for over forty years of service to an institution who he truly loved and believed in.

  • Shirley Wass

    With this kind of poor leadership, I can’t imagine Ned Hughes staying much longer at Mt. Carmel.

    • Patrick

      do you honestly think Ned sat down one day and said “how can I mess up MC?” Leaders need to see beyond the current year, out to five years down the road. He and others thought this was the best move for MC. Look at other Catholic schools were coaches and administrators became bigger than life not seeing what was necessary for the growth of their schools. Trust Ned and the Board. There are things they can’t say.

  • Duke Carnoustie

    Interesting how his hip is in such bad shape. Lenti should enjoy retirement despite this ugly situation and think about all the kids he impacted by teaching them how to play football and be better young men. He’s a shining light to our community and a beacon of hope to us all. His impact in making young men better football players is immeasurable.

  • Kevin Joyce

    Mike- I have known Frank Lenti for over 60 years and can honestly say all he has ever wanted to do is coach football for his beloved alma mater. His legacy will live on in the annuls of Mount Carmel and the state of Illinois high school football. The Mount Carmel administration has brought shame to one of the greatest high school institutions in the state.

  • AMR

    Obviously Ned Hughes doesn’t remember the core of his success. What a great way to represent the family that made him what he is, .
    Frank Lenti is such an upstanding man, how many hundreds of families are thankful for his mentoring and fine leadership skills he shared throughout these 40 years. My thoughts, prayers and good wishes for Frank. Ned Hughes, I’ll pray for you too, but also wonder how you sleep at night.

  • Brian Hopkins

    As a member of the 84 and 85 team…his first…I am sickened by this decision. He taught boys to Be men and was more about your life than the game….I am a better man because of him…

  • Sandra Provenzano

    What Ned Hughes did to Frank is a travesty. That is not how Mt. Carmel works. He is a disgrace.

  • Jon Cowett

    very sad.

  • Jim Hallaren

    Mike- thanks for a very well written story. If only Ned Hughes and Mt. Carmel could have handled the situation half as well as you write.

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