A Robstown High School football coach was reprimanded after a Sept. 9 altercation with two players led to one of the students claiming he had been pushed by the coach.
Superintendent Roberto Garcia said the Robstown Independent School District conducted an investigation into the incident involving Coach Ronnie Castaneda and two football players, 18-year-old Santiago Bayardo and a 15-year old teammate.
Garcia said after a game against Rockport, which the Cotton Pickers lost 28-17, players were overheard by Castaneda in the locker room expressing their frustration at the loss and talking about quitting the football team.
The coach then confronted the students when the 15-year-old student began cursing at Castaneda, Garcia said. That was when things began to get out of hand, he added, and the coach began using profanity back at the 15-year-old player before allegedly pushing him.
The superintendent said Bayardo then tried to defuse the situation by coming between Castaneda and the player.
"The other student (Bayardo) tried to get into middle of the two to break up the argument, to de-escalate situation," Garcia said, adding that Bayardo was not pushed, as some reports have claimed. "The coach is claiming that the student (who was allegedly pushed) slipped on a shoulder pad that was on the floor."
In fact, Garcia said the district's investigation found no evidence of a physical altercation.
Castaneda denied allegations of being involved in an altercation with the two players to investigators, but the district's investigation did find enough evidence to suggest some form of an argument did take place.
That investigation was conducted by the district's Athletic Director and head football coach Doug Wood and high school Principal Julio Rangel.
"We have sufficient evidence from the investigation that there was unprofessional misconduct on behalf of the coach," Garcia said, though he would not comment further. Statements were taken from four witnesses, including the students involved in the alleged incident, he added.
As a result of the district's investigation, Castaneda, who has been with the school district for 10 years, was suspended for three days from his teaching duties as a special education teacher at the high school, Garcia said. The coach has since returned to work.
Castaneda was also suspended from all athletic duties, including coaching, until Sept. 29, the superintendent said.
"We gave him a chance to make amends," Garcia said. "One fault does not make a person.
"He acted in an unprofessional manner and he was given a written reprimand."
A complaint on Castaneda was filed with the municipal court in Robstown, though it was not clear Tuesday which of the teens' families had filed the complaint.
Garcia said if the coach was to face legal action from the students or their families, Castaneda would be responsible for his own legal defense.
"He would have to hire his own legal association," Garcia said.