The many faces of Gino Vallante

Keene State College senior Cameron Haggar recalls meeting KSC employee Eugene “Gino” Vallante in 2010. Haggar currently serves as the student manager of the Night Owl Cafe at KSC. Haggar said Vallante became a friend to him when he had none.

“Coming into college alone, with no friends—having Gino as a mentor and a friend really helped me,” Haggar said. “I’ve had a dark past, I’ve been through some rough patches. My dad hasn’t always been there for me…I don’t know where I would be without that man [Vallante]. He’s done a lot for me, and he was like a father to me.”

Similarly, KSC sophomore Bentley Reif met Vallante as a freshman as he sought a job in the NOC. Reif, now a team leader in the NOC, said Vallante was his supervisor, and an advisor—someone he looked up to.

Reif said, “I went to him for class scheduling and I would go to his office and just talk to him as a friend if I needed to talk to somebody about something—he was always there to listen. I would consider him definitely more than just a boss, he was a good friend.”

Until his firing in March 2014, Vallante’s nine-year presence on the KSC campus made him a familiar face to many students, in his various capacities as the Night Owl manager, his work running Fast Break Broadcasting, along with his various roles with KSC athletics and athletes as an assistant coach and recruiter for men’s basketball.

But for other students, Vallante was not a boss. He was a recruiter, an acquaintance or an unofficial advisor for class scheduling and according to some of those students who have now come forward, he also initiated behaviors toward students which fit KSC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy Definitions for Stalking, with numerous and unwelcome overtures through emails, text messages and social media towards male students.

KSC senior Taylor James “TJ” Neville was one of those students who said he experienced Vallante’s varied approaches. From Vallante, Neville said he found guidance on class scheduling—and late night messages on the subject of masturbation.

“A few times I went to his office to talk about classes, and he would always help me out real quick, and then after that was done he would close the door… and he would talk about the same kind of stuff,” Neville said.

“Stuff,” according to Neville, is the content of messages Vallante would send Neville over Facebook “late at night.” For example, Neville shared with The Equinox the following [as written] exchange over Facebook messaging initiated by Vallante in fall 2010:


Vallante: so can i ask yo usomething?

Neville: sure

Vallante: how much do we trust each other?

Neville: id say a good amount

Vallante: ok good so then I have a question do I make you nervous? or do you feel awkward with me?

Neville: nope

Vallante: sometimes I’m not sure so have some of your convos been too personal and make you think in some way I’m weird?

Neville: u mean our convos?

Vallante: some talks we’ve had

Neville: right. no they havent

Vallante: ok good i would feel really badly if they did it’s not my intention


Besides frequent Facebook messages Neville said he received from Vallante, the student said, “He [Vallante] would ask me penis size. He would ask if I masturbated with my roommate in the room, if we [Neville and roommate] watched porn together, if we ever shared girls with each other… [Vallante] would talk about sex positions that he liked, things like that.”

KSC senior Luke Flood also met Vallante in 2010. Flood said he found Vallante’s behavior toward male students troubling. “Basically it goes from—he’s a guy that you would put first in relationships with players and stuff, the guy who tries to make them feel comfortable—and then he abuses that position by asking these questions and trying to get whatever ulterior motive satisfied that he has. I always thought it was [explicit] up. I always wanted to tell somebody,” Flood said.

One KSC alum and former basketball player, who requested his name be withheld, said Vallante was his first KSC campus contact. According to the former player, Vallante recruited him to play—he brought him to KSC. The former player said Vallante’s questions surrounding the subject of masturbation and sex began once he was an official KSC Owl.  “He talked about a lot of uncomfortable things for me to be talking to someone who works at Keene State about,” the former player said.


Vallante and Keene State College

Vallante, a 1997 KSC graduate, served from 2000-2002 as the men’s head basketball coach at New England College. In 2005, KSC hired Vallante as a full-time employee. At KSC, where Vallante worked in the L.P. Young Student Center as a program coordinator, he was also the manager of the Night Owl Café (NOC).

According to KSC Director of Human Resources, Kim Harkness, Vallante’s salary for his NOC work at the time of his termination from the college was $40,600.

During the 2010-20ll season, Vallante took the role of director of basketball operations for the KSC Men’s Basketball team. Harkness stated in an email to The Equinox that Vallante “has not been paid as an assistant coach or recruiter for athletics since May 2011,” but did not provide a salary figure for his previous work in those capacities.

In addition, Vallante held a separate contract with the college for Fast Break Broadcasting, a company Vallante created. According to the company’s official website, Fast Break Broadcasting was an internship for broadcast hopefuls where students could gain experience in the areas of programming, ads and marketing and production.

Almost three years later, on February 14, 2014, Vallante left KSC on paid leave, according to an official statement made by the college. In March 2014, the college fired Vallante after an internal investigation was made into allegations of misconduct.

KSC President Anne Huot released a statement on the official college website that read, “Keene State College has learned of allegations of misconduct by a staff member, and following a thorough review, has terminated Eugene Vallante, who had been a full-time employee at the College since 2005.”


Vallante and the Night Owl Cafe 

Since Vallante’s firing and banishment from the KSC campus, as confirmed by Harkness, Vallante no longer has regular contact with KSC students. Now, an increasing number of them want to share their experiences with Vallante.

According to KSC senior and Student Body Vice President Jackie Efraimson, the NOC team consists of the program coordinator, a position previously held by Vallante, one student manager, team leaders and general staff.

Efraimson stated that Haggar’s position as student manager was also the role of  “right-hand man to the Student Center Coordinator position.”

Efraimson is a NOC team leader, a position she defined as a step below the student manager. Efraimson said she asked Vallante for a job position in her freshman year at KSC.

“I kept asking him to give me a job, and he wouldn’t—until sophomore year. Junior year I became a team leader,” Efraimson said.

NOC student manager Haggar said he was hired by Vallante as a freshman in 2010 as a staff member.

Haggar said Vallante became one of his first friends on a campus where he knew no one.  “Yes, he was a friend to us,” Haggar said, “We were able to have that relationship—those different levels of [a] relationship—but when the professionalism was needed, it was there—it was always distinguished. There were never boundaries that were crossed.”

Brittney Rando is a KSC senior and NOC team leader. Rando said, “He’s helped me in so many ways. I could go on for days about how awesome a person he is. We have a relationship where we just joke around with each other—very professional at the same time— when it needed to be… I felt comfortable going to him even if it was personal problems— he was always here to listen.”

Efraimson agreed with Rando. “In the NOC he’s been more than a boss, he’s been a friend,” she said.


Vallante, KSC Athletics and Fast Break Broadcasting

Will Wallace, a 2013 KSC graduate, worked at Spaulding Gymnasium in the summer of 2013. Wallace said Vallante made him uncomfortable, and therefore, he took steps to distance himself from Vallante. Wallace said Vallante sent him a friend request on Facebook the same day he met him.

“I remember thinking, that’s kind of weird, he’s one of my superiors,” Wallace said about the friend request.  Wallace said he accepted the friend request. Wallace claimed moments later, he received his first message from Vallante, who asked him “So what are you going to be up to tonight?”

Wallace said he also worked for Vallante once over the summer of 2013 at a basketball tournament held at the college.

“He took me into his office to pay me, and he walked into the office and I remember standing in the doorway thinking, ‘I’m not even comfortable enough walking into this guy’s office,’” Wallace said. “The second I sensed weirdness, I cut it off.”

In the time-frame of 2010 and 2011, Vallante created the separately contracted Fast Break broadcasting company for the college. Since Vallante’s termination, the office of sports information has taken over broadcasting for the college. According to the official Fast Break Website, the company goal has been to “Expand our business to cover sporting events all through Southern New Hampshire and hope to work with other media outlets to join our services.”

Fast Break provided sports broadcast hopefuls a chance to intern and gain real-world experience. KSC 2013 alumnus Brian Schnee was one of them.

“The first game I ever called was with Gino, side by side,” Schnee said, “That was the greatest opportunity I actually had as a journalism sports hopeful at Keene State.”

Schnee, who said he met Vallante in his freshman year at KSC, explained Vallante’s association to the men’s basketball team.

“I don’t know that he was ever paid by the basketball team. He was a great recruiter—he has a knack for talent,” Schnee said.

Schnee added, “How did athletes get a job in school? Well, they went to Gino. He was an advisor to a lot of these students. I think he was more of a mentor than a contracted individual by the men’s basketball team.”

Schnee said he often went to Gino seeking advice for educational purposes and personal reasons.

“I was young, he was a very friendly guy, he offered me great advice,” Schnee said, “Gino and I would go out. We would do fun things, we would get dinner, we would watch games together…I believe personally that he wanted nothing but the best for students.”

Schnee said he never had a conversation with Vallante he deemed inappropriate.

Regarding truth behind allegations made against Vallante that led to his termination, Schnee said, “No comment.”

However, another Fast Break intern has a different story. Steve Aruilio, a KSC senior, said he met Vallante in August 2013.

Aruilio said as his senior year began, so did Vallante’s daily phone calls, text messages and invitations to meet for drinks, or even Sunday dinners at Vallante’s home.

According to Aruilio, Vallante called and sent text messages multiple times per day starting in August and continuing through fall 2013, asking to talk to Aruilio about upcoming broadcasts, and often late at night, “What are you doing?”

Aruilio said, “He texted me all throughout the day and sometimes late at night, asking me what I was doing, or to talk about broadcasting. At ten-thirty at night I would usually shrug it off….He was just overly texting and overly concerned about my life. I thought that was over the top.”

Aruilio stated Vallante never asked him questions about masturbation. But conversation was not restricted only to upcoming basketball games or Sunday dinner. Aruilio shared what he called the one uncomfortable conversation he ever had with Vallante when Vallante began talking about an unidentified female student who walked by.

Aruilio said, “A girl walked by and I said, ‘She’s hot,’ and he said  ‘She’s a big slut. I know everything about her, who she’s’ been with.’” Aruilio added,“Just imagine a teacher you barely know is saying that to you.”


Vallante and the KSC Men’s Basketball Team

Flood said he has known Vallante since his freshman year at KSC. Flood said he knew Vallante partly because Vallante recruited his roommate, John Boyatsis, to play basketball for KSC.

Flood said, “He [Vallante] seemed like a nice guy. He was the dude that would go and help recruit and then help freshmen settle in. He would get them jobs to work at the Night Owl. He, from what I knew, talked to all the freshmen and tried to help them out and found the ones willing to do work. He was kind of like a go-to person to talk to.”

NOC student manager and NOC Team Leaders Cameron Haggar, Bentley Reif, Brittany Rando and Jackie Efraimson all confirmed that in their interactions with him, Vallante never crossed a boundary.

Efraimson said, “He’s [Vallante] taken us team leaders to McCues [Billards and Sports Lounge] for wings and beer…But I’ve never once in the four years knowing him felt uncomfortable around him. He’s the first person I would go to on campus, good or bad.”

Vallante’s boundaries with KSC men’s basketball players and their friends suggests something different than what NOC students shared. For example, the KSC alum and former basketball player whose name is withheld said he began receiving messages over Facebook in 2010 from Vallante that, “Made me feel uncomfortable,” according to the former player.

According to the alumnus, he was recruited by Vallante in 2010 to play for KSC. This is when Vallante began messaging him over Facebook, he said.

“I remember telling him that I felt uncomfortable, and then he stopped for a while, and then it started again. Whenever he would say something weird, it was always through Facebook messaging,” the former player said.

The former player said Vallante tried to have conversations with him which made him ill at ease since he was a recent recruit of Vallante’s. Yet, the former player found himself in a position equally discomforting. The former player said Vallante “always would want to talk about girls…but he would talk about masturbation, that was probably the biggest thing he liked to bring up a lot.”

The former player indicated Vallante knew the subject matter was inappropriate. “He [Vallante] kind of knew he shouldn’t be asking me, he just needed to talk to somebody about uncomfortable things— I never understood it,” he said.

He said when he asked Vallante to stop, he would not hear from him for a few weeks. “But then maybe a few weeks later he would ask again.…”

The official KSC Student Handbook, which according to Harkness is only available to students online, provides definitions of various college policies.

Under the title “Sexual Misconduct Policy,” “Stalking” is defined by the college as, “Repeated unwanted attention that would create fear in a reasonable person where the intent is to force him/herself into the life/consciousness of the victim through harassing, threatening or frightening behavior(s).”  The college’s definition of “stalking” continues, “Behaviors may include: phone calls; electronic communication such as texting, emails, social networking, etc.; letters and notes; surveillance; entering home/apartment; assault.”

The former player continued, “I could kind of tell when he was going down that path, he would always say, ‘Are you alone?’”

The former player said he told his teammates about Vallante’s messages. “None of us really knew what to do with it or what to do about it, because people liked Gino, too, he was a nice guy…He hooks people up with jobs and does so many things for people—that’s what makes it a tough situation.”

Another student Vallante opened the doors of Spaulding Gymnasium to was Boyatsis, who is now a senior at KSC. Boyatsis played basketball at the college for three years, before leaving the team at the end of his third season. Boyatsis said he met Vallante while he was still in high school when Vallante recruited him for the men’s basketball team.

“He kind of brought me in as his guy or whatever, you know, like put me under his wing,” Boyatsis said. “I needed work study so he recruited me to come to Keene [State College] and I came there and I ended up getting hooked up with a job from him.” Boyatsis said that throughout his time with the basketball team, he and other players went to Vallante with their academic reports and he helped basketball players with their schedules. In 2010, Vallante hired Boyatsis as a general staff member for the NOC.

Boyatsis said soon after he met Vallante, he too was asked questions about masturbation. “He would ask me like who I had slept with the night before and what not, trying to get into my sexual life,” Boyatsis stated.

Boyatsis said when he heard from one of his “buddies” that he was not the only recipient of Vallante’s questions, he “realized it was really something else.”

Boyatsis said, “That’s when I backed off and I stopped working for him after my second year.” Boyatsis said his reasons for leaving the NOC were not entirely based on Vallante, but “it had something to do with it.” Boyatsis said he made conscious changes to spend less time around Vallante.

“I kind of separated myself, I just avoided him and I didn’t talk to him much. He always wanted to have separate meetings for some reason to talk. He would always call me in to talk about work but we talked about other stuff too. And then after a while I think he caught on that I was probably onto him.”

Boyatsis said that because he separated himself from Vallante so soon, he did not feel the need to tell anyone about the conversations. In hindsight, Boyatsis stated, he questioned why he never told someone in authority.

“I don’t really know why I didn’t, to be honest,” Boyatsis said, “This guy should not be in contact with eighteen-year-old boys. That’s what I personally think.”


KSC students write letter with no sender

Six current KSC students and two alumni told The Equinox Vallante made advances that left them uneasy. Some made the effort to end the discomfort. Boyatsis stopped working for the NOC, and Wallace never walked into Vallante’s office. For Neville, it was a phone call he and his roommate made to Vallante after one particularly disturbing instance. Neville told The Equinox his story.

Senior TJ Neville stated he and his roommate made a phone call to Vallante after Vallante gave the two freshman a screen name and password to a live chatroom where Vallante claimed a girl was waiting to talk to them. Neville said he and his roommate logged onto the AOL chat room with a username and password provided to them by Vallante.

Neville said, “We logged onto the account he gave us, and we get a message from a screen name…and it was supposed to be this girl he was telling us about. As soon as we started talking, we realized it was Gino that we were talking to on this AOL thing.”

Neville then made the phone call with his roommate and told Vallante to stop messaging them. The next day, according to Neville, Neville was blocked entirely from Gino Vallante on Facebook.

The former basketball player then shared a similar story—as did Boyatsis and Flood. They all stated that along with members of the basketball team and other students, a group met in an on-campus apartment in 2010 with a screen name provided by Vallante with the intention of entering an online live chat with a girl Vallante said wanted to talk with them.

Flood, who was in the Tisdale apartment in 2010, claimed they asked the individual in the chat room to send a photo to prove they were in contact with a female. Flood said they received “the most bootlegged picture ever.”

Flood claimed the conversation went on for some time before the students ended the conversation. Flood said, “We stopped chatting and said ‘We got to go.’ Two seconds later, Gino calls, he said, ‘Hey how was the chat, did you guys like it.’ From then on out, I always said to everybody, this guy should not be working at a school with kids.”

It was after this incident the former basketball player whose name is withheld, said that he and other members of the team wrote a letter with the intention to report Vallante.

“Our team, a few of us, sat down and wrote a letter— we were thinking that he should be fired in case he spoke to another kid who didn’t know how to act. We felt it might be a good idea, so we actually sat down and wrote a letter for a little bit. But then we just decided to never send it in.” The former player said he did not know to whom to send the letter.

“We didn’t know,” he said, “Somebody, some staff at Keene State, we really weren’t sure who. We wrote it down in case we needed it, we wrote down all the things that had happened.” According to the former player, the letter no longer exists—lost on a discarded laptop.


Julie Conlon can be contacted at

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