Don Markham’s second stint as Rialto High School football coach ended before he coached a game, as the veteran coach resigned Thursday in the wake of an investigation by the Rialto Unified School District on allegations of misconduct by the coach.
Markham delivered the resignation to Rialto athletic director Dan Williams Thursday morning at the prompting of Williams and Rialto principal Andreas Luna. Markham, who has won 309 games and five CIF titles in an illustrious career, tried to rescind the resignation later in the day but was told that it was final.
“I went on the recommendation of the athletic director and the principal,” Markham said. “They said that it was the best way to go with all of the heat that was going on. I didn’t want to cause any trouble so I resigned, but then I thought that I should stay around to make sure that the investigation wasn’t swept under the rug or anything like that.”
As far as the school district is concerned, the resignation is considered official and Rialto will re-open the position shortly.
“Mr. Markham resigned this morning and we accepted that resignation,” RUSD Director of Communications Syeda Jafri said. “We are going to proceed with the job search and go from there.”
The investigation, which started when Markham was given an administrative leave of absence Tuesday, centered upon allegations of Markham physically handling kids. It’s not the first time the coach has been accused of such conduct, as he was suspended for a game for a similar allegation during his last stint at Bloomington High School in 2005 before being cleared and reinstated.
According to the coach, a string of e-mails alleging that Markham hit or choked players since being hired on January 13 has circulated among parents and administrators and are the source of the investigation.
“I’m hearing all sort of things about how I hit kids or how I choked kids and it’s not true,” Markham said. “From what I know and from what I’ve been told, the former coach (Eric Rodriguez) has e-mailed parents and all the school board members saying these things.”
Rodriguez denied that he was the source of the allegations when contacted Thursday.
“Nope, it wasn’t me,” said Rodriguez, who spent the three previous seasons coaching the Knights. “A lot of people might think that it was me, but it wasn’t.”
Markham is unsure about his plans for the 2010 season. Even after accepting the Rialto job in January, Markham was in running for the open Colton job in the school district — Colton Unified — that he currently teaches in, but the rewritten posting for the job disqualifies Markham for contention.
“Before they rewrote the position, it was down to me and a security guard who was an assistant before,” Markham said. “They wanted to keep the job in-house with the assistants that were already there, but couldn’t do that with me in the way, so they rewrote the ad to stipulate that a candidate had to be a high school coach the last two years.
“Ultimately it comes down to going somewhere where I’m wanted. If I’m not wanted, I have no problem with leaving. I just don’t like the way it came about.”
Markham last coached in 2007 and will likely not coach at the high school level this upcoming season, holding out hope for the job at the new Grand Terrace school that is set to open for the 2011-12 school year.
As for Rialto, the Knights are left without a coach for spring practice in May, causing the school district to explore alternative solutions.
“There has been talk of having an interim coach in place for the spring until we can bring someone in permanently,” Jafri said.