Tuesday, Dec 03 2013 11:07 PM

Centennial coach placed on leave

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    Centennial High boys basketball coach Hernan Santiago.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer

Centennial has placed boys basketball coach Hernan Santiago on paid administrative leave indefinitely with the Golden Hawks' season opener less than three weeks away, athletic director Tom Haskell confirmed.

Santiago is in his first year at the school.

Haskell said the coach could be reinstated as soon as an independent investigation was complete, but there was no sign of how long that might take.

Santiago is not allowed contact with the team in practice or games while he is on leave. Centennial opens its season Dec. 20 in a tournament in Santa Maria. Junior varsity coach Jason Carmona has taken over the varsity job.

The Golden Hawks were 11-13 and 1-9 in the Southwest Yosemite League last season under Matt Rhoades, and they had already made offseason news when Independence star Derek Check and his heralded younger brother, incoming freshman Alec Check, transferred into Centennial. Santiago is the Checks' uncle and guardian.

Garces investigation ongoing

An investigation into alleged recruiting practices at Garces has entered its final stages, Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow said Tuesday.

Crichlow said he was waiting for the Catholic Diocese of Fresno to unveil any actions that it will take as a result of an investigation it ordered this fall before he wraps up the section's independent investigation.

"There's still some things ongoing," Crichlow said. "When they finish with their announcements, which I'm hoping is pretty soon, we expect to have something in addition to what they announce."

Garces released a statement in October acknowleding the recruiting allegations. The school said it hoped to communicate better with local public schools and that it would implement a plan recommended by Richard Sexton, the Diocese superintendent. At the time, the school said that implemenation could take "months."

Section bylaws state that a school, coach or player who is found to have committed violations could face punishment ranging from a letter of reprimand to ineligibility or a ban from postseason play.

Garces, the defending Division II football section champion, plays at Visalia-El Diamante on Friday in its third consecutive D-II championship.

Advance tickets for D-I title game

Tickets for the Central Section Division I football championship are on sale in advance at Bakersfield High's finance office.

Tickets are available during school hours until noon Friday.

The game, pitting defending section champion Clovis North and 35-time champ Bakersfield at Griffith Field, kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday.

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