Returning to the field are at least two of the four San Clemente High School football coaches who were put on an administrative leave amid allegations that a sports-equipment company gave kickbacks to coaches across Southern California.
Head Coach Eric Patton, however, isn’t among them.
Although the scandal touched football programs across Capistrano Unified and in other school districts, ’s program was hit the hardest.
Four coaches were put on administrative leave in August, just before the start of the fall season.
On Friday, Capistrano Unified spokesman Marcus Walton confirmed a report in the Orange County Register that assistant coaches Ken Goldstone and Joe Wood are currently coaching San Clemente's team.
Parent Mark Klein, who is president of the Triton Touchdown Club—the fundraising arm of the booster club—said the coaches were back as of last week and attended . This week, the team has a bye.
PBS originally broke the story of Lapes Athletic Team Sales of Laguna Hills, a now-defunct company that allegedly set up “slush funds” to kick back money to coaches across Orange County and beyond. Capistrano Unified hired its own investigator to look into the matter, separate from , which is also ongoing.
Klein said he has talked with an investigator the district hired recently and plans to meet with him again in the next two weeks. He’s positive none of the coaches did anything wrong and that all should be cleared.
Unlike what has been reported elsewhere, Klein said, no district funds were involved. The teams would negotiate a price for optional “spirit wear,” such as shorts or T-shirts.
Lapes would then charge $2 more as a fundraiser for the teams, he said. The difference was put into special accounts for the coaches, who then poured the money back into their programs. Similar fundraisers exist today.
“The booster club does all the paperwork. It’s just a difference of who does the paperwork,” Klein said.
Klein and other friends of Patton attended the , urging officials to set the matter straight.
Walton would not confirm the Orange County Register's report that a third assistant coach is also off administrative leave. The coach, Jeff Veeder, told the Register: "I knew we didn't do anything wrong or illegal. ... I'm excited [to be reinstated], but I'm disappointed the season is lost."
The regular season’s last game is Nov. 10.