Eric Patton, the San Clemente High football coach who was placed on administrative leave last summer amid from a sports-equipment company, has resigned, officials said Monday.
SCHS athletic director and interim football coach Jon Hamro said Patton stepped down only as head football coach, not as a faculty member, although he remains on leave for that position.
Patton said his decision to resign, effective Jan. 30, was actually made long before the kickback allegations surfaced, but he didn't want to distract the team before or during the season.
In an email sent to Patch on Monday, he wrote:
I had been head coach at San Clemente for over 12 years - longer than any other head football coach in the district by many years, and before [that] I was head coach for many years at Capistrano Valley High School. It was time to step down. I had wanted to finish with this class because several years previously I had promised a mother of one of my players that I would finish my tenure as head coach with her son, and it just seemed like good timing. I have always had as a goal not to announce in a public fashion my retirement from coaching before the end of the season in order not to distract from the team's accomplishments. I have always felt that it was proper etiquette to retire after the end of the season banquet. The SCHS football banquet was held on January 23rd - one week prior to my official resignation. My resignation was intended to enable the SCHS football program to move forward and select a new head coach or to continue with Jon Hamro as head coach. I wanted closure and finality for the good of the team, the staff, the parents, the program, and the school. ... I do not know why school officials allowed nearly a whole month to elapse before making the news public. I just want to be clear that my decision to step down was made months prior to the 2011 season.
Meanwhile, Patton and his supporters continue to insist the coach did nothing wrong and shouldn't have been placed on leave.
On Monday, Patton's attorney, Eric N. Hansen, released a 12-page letter accusing district officials of acting unfairly and unprofessionally in targeting Patton and several other coaches.
Among other things, Hansen said the district policies his client was accused of violating didn't even exist at the time of Patton's alleged actions.
Capistrano Unified spokesman Marcus Walton declined to comment, saying by email: "For the District to respond to the assertions made in Mr. Hansen’s letter, his client would have to avail himself of the right to have the charges read in an open session meeting of the Board of Trustees. Since Mr. Hansen’s client has not availed himself of this right, the District is unable to discuss this matter."
The school board is scheduled to meet in closed session Monday night and it is believed the agenda includes disciplinary action against Patton and several former football coaches from other CUSD schools.