Paulette Bonamego was banned from Kelly/Shorts due to confrontation with CMU play-by-play announcer
Paulette Bonamego, wife of former head football coach John Bonamego, was banned from Kelly/Shorts Stadium for much of this season following an Oct. 13 altercation with Central Michigan play-by-play broadcaster Don Chiodo in the press box.
The incident occurred immediately after Central Michigan's 24-23 loss to Ball State. Kicker Morgan Hagee converted on a 36-yard field goal with 47 seconds remaining to give the Cardinals a win.
Chiodo made a comment during his postgame show on the Chippewa Sports Network, an IMG College affiliate, that upset the coach's wife.
Part of Bonamego's contract includes the use of a hospitality suite at the north end of the third level in the press box – right next to where Chiodo works each home game. The coach's wife regularly watched the games in the Bonamego suite and entertains guests with food and alcohol. It is unclear, CMU Athletics staff members said, how much she had to drink prior to the incident though she reportedly had been drinking that afternoon.
When Chiodo left the broadcast booth for a bathroom break, Paulette Bonamego stopped him in the hallway. She was upset at Chiodo's on-air comments surrounding the CMU football team's effort against Ball State.
Witnesses told CMU Athletics staff she continued making a scene and yelling at Chiodo. During the altercation between the two, she told Chiodo that she and coach Bonamego could return to the National Football League at any given time if they wanted to.
No physical contact was made, but the head coach's wife was banned from Kelly/Shorts Stadium after CMU's Week 7 loss to Ball State.
Chiodo quickly returned to the broadcast booth after the confrontation with Paulette.
Chiodo declined to comment for this story. Bonamego did not respond to a request for comment.
CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford released a statement on Nov. 24 to Central Michigan Life regarding the situation.
"The safety of our employees, students and guests is always a top priority of mine," Alford said. "Our actions, processes and decisions are designed to ensure safety and maintain a respectful and professional environment at all times."
Since CMU's loss to Ball State, the Chippewas dropped five-straight to finish 1-11 overall and 0-8 in the Mid-American Conference. Bonamego's only win in 2018 was against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent Maine, 17-5.
On Nov. 23, shortly after CMU's 51-13 loss to Toledo, Bonamego was fired as the head coach.
Because Bonamego was fired and did not resign, it left CMU with a $1.125 million buyout.
Bonamego's contract said he would receive the full $1.125 million buyout if fired. However, CMU has been in negotiations with Bonamego's representatives about a settlement lower than what is outlined in his contract.
Alford did not say if the situation in the press box has anything to do with an attempt to reach a lower buyout settlement with Bonamego's reps.
Prior to joining the Chippewas in 2015, Bonamego worked in the National Football League from 1994-2014 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions. Before then, the 55-year-old was an assistant coach at Maine (1988-91), Lehigh (1992) and Army (1993-98).
Bonamego played for CMU in the mid-1980s as a walk-on wide receiver and quarterback. He said coaching the Chippewas was his dream job.