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RHS probation kept quiet

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By David Giuliani

Diehard Robertson High School football fans know that the team won the state championship in 2005 and 2006.

But it wasn’t publicly known that the New Mexico Activities Association placed the football program on probation for two years.

The information came out in a lawsuit filed this week by victims in the sexual assaults during a football camp in August 2008. It was included to demonstrate alleged incompetence and negligence in the program.

Three school board members interviewed this week said they had no idea about the probation.

According to NMAA documents, Jimmy Derrick, the superintendent of the Lovington schools, informed the association in November 2005 that he had received an anonymous e-mail indicating that then-head Robertson football coach Chad Roanhaus didn’t have a coaching license.

Robertson had just beaten Lovington in the state championship. According to the NMAA, the e-mail suggested that Robertson forfeit the championship, but Derrick said the license situation shouldn’t affect the game’s outcome.

The NMAA determined that Roanhaus didn’t have a coaching license in New Mexico and that while he had taken and passed the NMAA’s coaches’ education course offered, he never turned in his exam to receive a certificate.

The association also found that Roanhaus, now the coach of Highlands University’s football team, didn’t complete the licensure application process through the state.

All of this information was provided in letters from the NMAA to then-Superintendent Pete Campos, a state senator and now president of Luna Community College.

As a result of NMAA’s discovery, the association issued three sanctions in early 2006:

• A two-year probation for the football program.

• Robertson High School, with the involvement of the community, was required to host “Pursuing Victory With Honor” workshops. The cost of the workshops was $500, paid by Robertson.

• Roanhaus was required to take the mandated coaching course and fill out proper paperwork to receive his certificate by the start of the next season.

In August 2006, Mario Martinez, the NMAA’s associate director, said in a letter to Robertson that the school had shown that all of its coaches had the proper licenses.

In interviews on Wednesday, school board members Phillip Vigil, Ramon “Swoops” Montaño and Patrick Romero said they never knew that the football program had been placed on probation. They said they would likely have remembered such a development and that they should have been informed.

In October 2007, the Optic submitted a public records request through Campos for Roanhaus’ degrees and licenses. The Las Vegas City Schools responded with the requested information, and it appeared as if Roanhaus had the credentials.

 At the time, the City Schools didn’t volunteer any information about the controversy surrounding Roanhaus.

When asked about the Robertson probation, Robert Zayas, NMAA’s spokesman, said his organization would neither confirm nor deny whether there were sanctions. The NMAA doesn’t release such information, he said.

But Robert Rothstein, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit involving the assaults, said he requested the documents associated with the Roanhaus problem in 2009 and got the information in two days. The documentation shows that the NMAA’s attorney, Mark Geiger, released the information.

Campos and Roanhaus couldn’t be reached for comment.