Joe Pascale, fired this weekend as football coach at Catholic University, yesterday accused the school and Athletic Director Fred O'Connor of not being fair with him.

Coach of the Cardinals since 1972, Pascale was told that he didn't fit into the school's plans, which include hiring a full-time football coach.

"I asked if I'd be considered for the job and the school said, 'Don't bother,' " said Pascale, an elementary school teacher in Fairfax County. "They said they were going to select someone with full-time coaching experience.

"At (O'Connor's) first meeting with us, he told my staff that he had been hired to clean house and would get rid of us one way or another. I was the one who introduced him to CU and recommended him for his job, and the first thing he does is tell me I'm going to be fired.

"After keeping the program alive for 12 years, this just isn't fair. I feel that I was owed a shot (at the full-time position). The first year, I had to borrow helmets from American University, and now that we're about to turn the corner, this happens. It's absolutely ludicrous."

But what Pascale describes as "backstabbing," CU officials term "a decision to upgrade our program."

"We thanked Joe for his part-time work here, but we felt it was time for a full-time coach," said O'Connor. "Eight of our opponents will have full-time coaches next year and we thought we'd also need one to stay competitive. We didn't offer Pascale the job because he had no track record as a full-time coach. We're hoping to hire someone who's been in a coaching and athletic administration career path.

"I know that Joe doesn't agree with this decision and may feel hurt, but I have to do what I feel is best for the players, the athletic program, and the university."