Azevedo steps down from Maria Carrillo post

By Kerry Benefield and Derek Moore | THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Steve Azevedo, the Maria Carrillo High School girls' basketball coach who took his teams to a 101-40 record while at the helm of the Pumas' squad, has resigned his post amid allegations that he bullied his players over several years.

The Santa Rosa School District received Azevedo's letter of resignation late Tuesday, the day after the Pumas began their new season.

At his Fountaingrove home Wednesday night, Azevedo, 57, said he resigned for “personal reasons.” He said he could not elaborate because of the district's ongoing investigation into the complaints about his behavior.

He said he will cooperate with the investigation, adding that he hoped his resignation will make it unnecessary for the district to continue with one.

The longtime Sonoma County coach said he also hoped that the community's focus will return to the players he formerly mentored and what he predicted will be another “great season” for the Pumas squad.

“It's about the girls, bottom line,” he said. “It's not about my hurt pride.”

Prior to Wednesday evening's Santa Rosa School Board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Mark Klick described Azevedo's resignation letter as consisting of two lines, one of them saying that Azevedo “planned to respond to the complaint.”

“The district is always working to ensure that all of our programs are operating as they should, in a positive, safe manner,” Klick said.

Azevedo, who for years has run a successful youth development basketball program in Santa Rosa, is the subject of wide-ranging complaints by a contingent of parents and players.

He degraded athletes, harassed them, used demeaning behavior and profanity and violated the California Interscholastic Federation code of conduct on role models and personal conduct, according to a letter from Gordan W. Egan, a Sacramento-based attorney.

The attorney also claimed that Azevedo has improperly used Maria Carrillo facilities as a platform for his private Gym Rats development program.

Azevedo declined to comment on those specific allegations Wednesday. Asked if was planning to discontinue the Gym Rats program, he replied, “not at this time.”

Santa Rosa-based private investigator Chris Reynolds said Monday that he has been hired by the school district, but would not comment on the extent of his inquiry. He said it involves a personnel matter.

Azevedo, who is not a teacher with Santa Rosa City Schools, has been a coach in the district since 2004, according to Klick. A basketball coach with his experience earns $3,806 a year, Klick said.

The allegations and ouster of the successful coach has split players and parents, some of whom accuse the parents who raised the accusations of being miffed over their daughters' playing time and using Azevedo's intense coaching style as an excuse.

Backers call Azevedo a quality coach who has for years run skill camps for elementary through high school age athletes, giving scholarships to those who were unable to pay.

Monday's basketball tryouts at Maria Carrillo were run by longtime assistant varsity coach Matt Vogensen. He will remain as interim coach until a replacement is hired, according to Klick.

Azevedo led the Pumas to the second round of the North Coast Section playoffs last season. He has compiled a 101-40 record since becoming the head coach in 2006, a 72 percent winning rate.