STEUBENVILLE - A group calling itself Big Red Nation has started an Internet petition calling for people to stand up and support Steubenville High School football coach Reno Saccoccia.
"Coach Saccoccia has devoted the past 30-plus years of his life to Steubenville City Schools, Big Red football and the City of Steubenville. He has helped countless students, families and citizens of this great community. It is our turn to support him and his family," states the message on the www.change.org.
It is the same website that carries an online petition calling for Steubenville Superintendent Mike McVey to fire Saccoccia.
The petition supporting Saccoccia was started Tuesday and had more than 500 signatures this morning.
A message from Big Red Nation said the petition, "and all of the comments will be given to the Steubenville Board of Education to let them know we support Reno and expect them to support him, too."
The change.org website describes itself as "the world's largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change."
Change.org claims more than 25 million users in 196 countries, "and every day people use our tools to transform their communities - locally, nationally and globally."
A rally that had been planned for Saturday to support Saccoccia has been postponed until later this month after a special grand jury meets to investigate all aspects of a rape case that has brought national and international attention to the city and the high school football team, organizers said Wednesday.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called for the grand jury to be convened this month following the juvenile rape trial.
"I have reached the conclusion that this investigation cannot be completed, that we cannot bring finality to this matter without the convening of a grand jury. I am asking the Jefferson County Common Pleas Court to convene a grand jury to meet on or about April 15. My prosecutors will present evidence to this grand jury for it to determine if other crimes have been committed," DeWine announced after two Steubenville High school students were found delinquent last week in Jefferson County Juvenile Court for the rape of a 16-year-old Weirton girl last year.
Ma'Lik Richmond was sentenced by visiting Juvenile Judge Thomas Lipps to a one-year sentence andTrent Mays to a two-year term in an Ohio Department of Youth juvenile detention facility.
According to the Change.org website, the petition calling for the termination of Saccoccia was initiated by Elizabeth Beier of Cockeysville, Md.
"We respect the legal system and will wait until the grand jury meets to investigate the case. After the grand jury concludes its work we will respond appropriately. We have cooperated fully with this investigation and will continue to do so," stated McVey.
McVey said he would not comment on personnel or students, citing their privacy rights.