Controversy rocks GHS baseball

By SCOTT FORSTNER and ERIC LEINS
Sports Editor and Staff Writer
GILROY
– Controversy, questions and rumors still swirl in the community
after four Gilroy High School student-athletes were reinstated to
the baseball team, despite being kicked off the club last week by
their coach.
By SCOTT FORSTNER and ERIC LEINS

Sports Editor and Staff Writer

GILROY – Controversy, questions and rumors still swirl in the community after four Gilroy High School student-athletes were reinstated to the baseball team, despite being kicked off the club last week by their coach.

GHS Varsity Baseball Coach Clint Wheeler dismissed the students from the team after a Saturday, March 15, incident that unfolded after hours on school grounds. The players and two female students used a duplicate key to gain entry into the dugout and storage area of the baseball field, triggering police response to a breaking-and-entering call.

Officers found marijuana paraphernalia on the students, Wheeler said, but they made no arrests and filed no report. Wheeler’s own investigation the next day revealed that at least one of the students had kept marijuana in a storage area locker.

The veteran coach, known for his straightforward style, dismissed all four players soon after.

“I stand by my first decision,” Wheeler said Monday. “I have nothing personal against them; they’re good kids. The biggest thing is they have to win back the confidence that they lost from their teammates.”

Upon further review by high school administrators and after the coach was confronted by some parents of the dismissed players, one varsity player and the junior varsity player were given three-day suspensions, triggering six weeks of ineligibility for each player. League play began March 12. Baseball season ends May 13, making the players eligible for the last two weeks of the season and the playoffs.

The two other varsity players will serve a two-game suspension and rejoin the team on Thursday, in time for Saturday’s home game against Palma High School.

Principal Bob Bravo said the punishments were doled out based on each student’s level of involvement and is in line with school and district policy.

The matter has some in GHS circles wondering if police and school officials are giving preferential treatment to the baseball players. Others say threats of legal action by parents of the players swayed the school’s decision, a claim which Bravo has firmly denied.

“No attorney contacted me or anyone in my leadership team,” Bravo said Tuesday. “Our advertised policy is that if a student is caught using or carrying drugs, they are ineligible (to play sports) for six weeks. If they’re caught a second time, the punishment is more harsh, and it would probably lead to expulsion.”

Superintendent Edwin Diaz said he had not been contacted by lawyers, parents or administrators regarding the matter. Police officials also deny being inappropriately lenient.

Capt. Debbie Moore said there is no policy requiring police to arrest someone with drug paraphernalia.

“The officers decided to let the school district handle this as a school issue,” Moore said.

Moore said the police department could not provide the names of the responding officers since there was no report filed.

The school’s decision to allow the players back on the team differs from a policy Wheeler had been enforcing. Last year, Wheeler kicked a player off his team for drinking at the prom and, when he was the junior varsity baseball coach, Wheeler dismissed a player for possession of alcohol.

“I thought a precedent was there,” Wheeler said.

At Monday’s practice, Wheeler made the returning players address the team.

“I’ve been very honest and up-front with (the team). I kind of treat them like family out there. They have the right to know,” Wheeler said. “But it is difficult for me after making my decision. I’m going to do the best I can to make it a win-win situation.”

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