As the 2014 high school basketball season gets underway, the varsity and junior varsity teams at Woodside High School will be training under new head coaches.
The varsity team is also engaged in rebuilding its morale after a hazing incident that allegedly occurred in December, James Lianides, the superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District, told the Almanac.
As classes resumed after the winter break, Principal Diane Burbank dismissed varsity head coach Doug Fountain and the junior varsity head coach Daniel Pereira following an investigation into an alleged hazing incident of two varsity players during a pre-season tournament in the city of Patterson, located southwest of Modesto in the Central Valley, according to Mr. Lianides.
District officials allege that members of the varsity team taped the mouths of two varsity team members, including one freshman, applied makeup to their faces and forced them to watch Spanish-language TV "for a period of time," Mr. Lianides said.
Mr. Fountain was allegedly aware of the incident and may have witnessed some of it, Mr. Lianides said. The junior varsity coach allegedly had been aware of it but did not intervene and did not report it, Mr. Lianides said.
Attorney Christopher Dolan, who is representing the family of one of the team members, provided a statement to the Almanac: "We have reached out to the district and hope we can work collaboratively to resolve these issues. The best interests of the children are to try and work with the school cooperatively and in a discrete manner. We hope the school district will respond accordingly."
"The family is hoping no legal action will be needed," Mr. Dolan added.
Mr. Fountain was in his second year as head coach and came to Woodside with a long track record and good references, Mr. Lianides said.
An email from a parent triggered the investigation, Mr. Lianides said. A couple of days of investigation led to enough evidence to justify the dismissals, Mr. Lianides said. Ms. Burbank was not available for an interview.
Mr. Fountain was "certainly forthcoming (as to) what occurred," Mr. Lianides said.
The members of the varsity team, and parents of team members, have participated in three hours of a six-hour program on empathy and sensitivity in understanding others, Mr. Lianides said. Another three-hour session is ahead.
Woodside resident and former professional basketball player Rich Kelley has gotten involved to help rebuild morale on the team as the season gets underway, Mr. Lianides said.
The Almanac was unable to reach Mr. Fountain for comment.