SATURDAY UPDATE: New coaches at RHS — for now

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By David Giuliani

When the Robertson High School football team comes out for practice Monday, it'll have new coaches — at least for the time being.

Richard Martinez, a longtime wrestling and middle school football coach for the district, will be taking over as interim head coach, while Pat Garcia, another coach for the district, will assist Martinez, officials said.

The Las Vegas City Schools made these selections after the state police on Thursday started investigating allegations of a violent hazing incident that took place this week at the Robertson High School football camp. The incident allegedly occurred at the Western Life Camp, 15 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Gallinas Canyon. That's where the Cardinals held a four-day camp ending on Thursday.

Superintendent Rick Romero confirmed Saturday morning that the district had suspended six football players in connection with the alleged hazing. Head coach Ray Woods and four members of the coaching staff were placed on paid leave, as was Athletic Director Mike Yara, Romero said.

He said that as many as eight players may have been victims in the alleged attack. He said he didn't know if it was an initiation.

Romero confirmed Saturday morning that one player is alleging that his attackers used a broomstick to sodomize him. "I can't say whether it happened or not," he said.

On Saturday morning, Associate Superintendent LeeEtte Quintana was investigating the coaches who are on leave, while Paul D. Henry Elementary School principal Aylene Romero-Griego was conducting the student inquiry, Romero said. Part of the probe will involve questions about how coaches responded to the allegations, he said.

"We're doing the best we can to make sure that all parties in this matter are treated fairly," he said. "We just want to caution everybody to be patient and let the state police investigation take place."

Romero said a panel from the district would hear the results of the investigation and determine the disciplinary consequences for the players, he said.

"Our responsibility as a school district is that once law enforcement arrives on the scene and they have reason to believe that a crime has occurred, it supersedes any authority I may have," Romero said. "My responsibility would be to cooperate with them."

State police officers were waiting for the team's bus when it arrived on campus early Thursday evening. A group of frustrated parents were also present.

The team had planned to have a pizza party at the football field when it arrived. Instead, players ate in classrooms while officers questioned team members.

"The state police had asked the school district to provide them with the facilities to pursue the investigation," Romero said.

Ray Woods, in his first year as Robertson's head football coach, said Friday that he couldn't say much about the incident. But he said none of the coaches were targets of the investigation.

He said it was unfortunate that a "10-minute incident" could overshadow the entire camp.

"We had a great camp. A lot of team-building exercises, skits, our boys getting to know us and us getting to know them. It was lot of fun," Woods said.

Ramon "Swoops" Montao, a member of the City Schools board, said he is concerned about the matter.

"I know our superintendent worked late (Thursday) night to see what steps he needs to take. I don't know exactly what took place," he said.

Montao said Saturday morning that he has heard much speculation but that he hopes the board will hear the facts about what happened at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.

"We don't get involved in the day-to-day operations," he said.

The first Robertson football game is Aug. 29 at home.

Romero said that despite the problems, Robertson will try to make every game of the season. In recent years, the Cardinals have been victorious, winning back-to-back state championships in 2005 and 2006 and taking the runnerup position last year.

Editor's note: The Optic's Dave Kavanaugh contributed to this report.