Garces released a statement today to announce the completion of a self-imposed investigation into recruiting allegations against the school's athletic program. The investigation was ordered by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and was done by an independent committee.
The statement is ... well, it's confusing, to be honest. Garces doesn't appear to confirm or deny any fault in recruiting and only vows to do better in the future. Its specific plan of action for improving, however, is left out because it isn't completed. I've left the text of the entire release below so you can decipher it for yourself.
But one way or the other, this story isn't over. Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow, who's mentioned in the release, told me Friday that the section is conducting its own investigation of these allegations. If the section determines that Garces was indeed recruiting, punishment could be anything from a letter of reprimand (slap on the wrist apparently not included) to something more serious, like forfeiture of past wins (which could hypothetically include last year's Division II title won by the Rams' football team) or future postseason bans.
Here's the text, which was sent to us at about 4:35 p.m. today:
Garces Initiates Plan to Become More Transparent in Complying with CIF Rules
Fresno, CA, October 11, 2013: John Fanucchi, the President of Garces Memorial High School,
met this past week with Richard E. Sexton, diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Sexton
reviewed the findings and major recommendations developed by a special independent review
committee that visited Garces in late August. Over three days in August, the committee interviewed
a number of public and Catholic school administrators, members of the Garces coaching staff, the
parents of two student athletes, and members of Garces’ parent and alumni organizations that
support the Garces sports program. After these interviews,the Ad-Hoc review committee provided
the Superintendent with its finding and recommendations.
This special review committee was asked by Sexton to determine how Garces can better
communicate with its fellow public school coaches and administrators about Garces’ compliance
with CIF rules in the future. “At this time many public school coaches believe that a few coaches at
Garces,” said Sexton, “have violated specific CIF recruitment rules. I am determined to help Garces
change that impression.”
“We are making critical steps in the right direction,” said Sexton. “Garces’ primary goal is to
ensure that its sports program focuses on Garces’ values and mission. Garces wants to regain the
complete trust of the Bakersfield community on its compliance with CIF rules. We want to take a
leadership role in admitting our errors and building a better Garces sports program that can be
characterized by dynamic leadership, critical insight, wisdom, and courage to strengthenand achieve
the school’s mission. This renewed Garces will be a school that is fully compliant with CIF rules and
transparent about incoming students and transfer student-athletes.”
Yesterday Sexton and Fanucchi met with Jim Crichlow, the Commissioner of the Central Section
of CIF and discussed with him the confidential findings and recommendations developed for Garces.
Crichlow agreed with Sexton that “Garces has taken an important step to direct their coaches to play
by the rules.”
“Every year,” said Fanucchi, “Garces has received requests from student athletes who want to
transfer to our school. Parents and other members of the family walk onto our campus and
immediately sense that this school is different. There is a sense of high expectations, disciplined
behavior, safety, a strong sports and activities program accessible to all students, a commitment to
the Catholic faith and Gospel values; all in all a sense of family, mutual respect, and caring.” Fanucchi
also related, “Whenever I encounter a rumor of alleged recruiting, I will immediately investigate the
claim to the best of my ability to determine whether it is true or not.”
Sexton presented Garces his list of recommendations and expectations which Garces will take
and develop into a comprehensive plan within the next few months. During the school’s planning
process, Sexton has asked Garces to keep his direction-setting expectations confidential until realistic
and doable plans are completed. Some of Sexton’s directives include staffing arrangements, and, as
such, are confidential. He said at the end of his meeting with Garces’ president, “It was clearto me
that the leadership at Garces appreciated the thorough review of Garces, compliance with CIF rules.
Some mistakes have been made because more oversight was needed. I believe that Garces and its
neighboring public schools will be on the road to re-establish mutual trust with clear transparency
once these recommendations are fully implemented.”