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Tuesday, Jan 28 2014 03:44 PM

Garces fires Jim Maples after successful, controversial tenure

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    By Autumn Parry / The Californian

    Jim Maples was Garces Memorial High School's football coach.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Garces announced Tuesday that it has parted ways with football coach Jim Maples after two seasons that were both highly successful, and, lately, full of controversy.

First, the statement from the school:

John Fanucchi, the President of Garces Memorial High School, announced today that Garces is searching for a new head football coach for the 2014 football season. Earlier today, Mr. Richard Sexton, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fresno, thanked Coach Maples for his service to the Garces football program, but explained to him that Garces has decided to take a new direction in its football program.

Anyone interested in applying for head football coach should contact Garces and request an application.
 
Maples was 22-4 as head coach, winning the 2012 Central Section Division II championship and finishing as runner-up this past season. Before that, he was Garces' defensive coordinator. Maples also coached at East, where he won the 2004 D-II section title. He is 62-42 in nine years overall.
 
With that track record — among Kern County teams, only Wasco (22-3) has had a better record in the past two seasons — it seems like a school would be doing everything it could to keep its coach, not fire him.
 
But Maples' story doesn't end there. He was put on paid administrative leave beginning July 29 while the Fresno Diocese (which handles all personnel decisions for Garces) investigated his involvement in some illegal recruiting allegations. Maples was reinstated eight days later, but the story didn't end there. The Diocese launched another investigation on Garces' relationship with the Kern High School District, and the Central Section considered its own investigation, pending the results of the Diocese probe.
 
Then, in December, Maples and seven assistant coaches filed a lawsuit against the KHSD, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and the Central Section, alleging that a private meeting they had last summer was illegally recorded and then illegally disseminated, stemming the earlier investigation.
 
Now, a month later, we have this news. I received a statement from Maples' attorney, Daniel Rodriguez, who said the timing of the lawsuit and today's news "seems too coincidental." Here's the full statement from Rodriguez:
 
The Garces head football coach position was Jim Maples' dream job, and the two years that he was the head football coach there were very successful. We don't know what more the Garces High School officials could have asked of this man. We can only wonder if the Kern High School District and the CIF pressured Garces into making this move. We intend to get to the bottom of this when we get our chance to question the Garces officials under oath.
 
To be clear: The last line of that statement does not mean that Maples is planning legal action against Garces. But Garces could be subpoenaed in the other case Maples and his coaches have filed. That's what Rodriguez is referencing.
 
Rodriguez said Maples isn't planning any other comment. I have reached out to the superintendent of education for the Diocese, Richard Sexton, and to Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow, with no luck so far. Garces president John Fanucchi deferred all comment to Sexton.
 
If you're keeping score, that's five football openings in Bakersfield, four of them on the east side of town: East, Garces, Highland, Mira Monte and Stockdale.

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