HS Volleyball: WHS coach steps down after probe in neighboring county

Tom Schatz, an embattled former teacher and volleyball coach who recently resigned from Rancho San Justo Middle School in Hollister, has stepped down from his head coaching positions with the Watsonville High girls and boys volleyball programs, Watsonville Athletic Director Marcus Northcutt told this newspaper on Wednesday.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, two days after Benito Link reported his resignation from Hollister School District, Schatz said volleyball was put on hold after the death of his mother in early February and his resignation just weeks before.

Since then, Schatz has been away from his coaching positions at Watsonville and Faultline Volleyball, a sister program of the Watsonville Starlings and member of the greater Starlings Volleyball USA family.

He has also been busy settling his mother’s estate with the help of his father, wife and kids.

“The last few months have been hectic,” Schatz said. “I don’t have a plan, but I know that I’m not going to let this ruin my life.”

Schatz resigned from his positions as physical education teacher and athletic director at Rancho after a reported multi-month investigation by the H.S.D. into his conduct with students and members of Faultline Volleyball, which serves players throughout the Tri-County and south Santa Clara County.

Calls into H.S.D. looking for details of the 2017 investigation were not returned before press time.

Schatz, however, said the investigation stemmed from relationships with parents in the Faultline program, not his conduct with students at Rancho.

“As a teacher,” said Schatz, who was put on administrative leave early in the 2017-18 school year; “I’m starting to realize that you can’t have a personal life.”

Concerns about Schatz’s behavior date back to an investigation conducted in 2009 in which parents of 14-year-old twins at Rancho filed a police report alleging Schatz had continuously badgered their daughters with inappropriate behavior, which included shouting foul language during volleyball practice, telling them sexually charged innuendos and asking the girls to send photos of themselves via cell phone for caller ID purposes.

None of the concerns in the police report based on a three-page letter submitted by the parents to H.S.D. and law enforcement in 2009 included overt sex acts.

The police report was filed as a possible violation of California Penal Code section 647.6 (a), which is defined as annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age, but Schatz was ultimately not charged with a crime.

“I can clearly tell you that I’m not a perfect person,” Schatz said. “It was 2009. It was a long time ago and that’s not who I am now.”

Northcutt said the school was not made aware of either investigation until Monday.

Schatz had been the head coach for Watsonville’s girls program for the last two seasons, and was set to take over the boys program this spring before taking time off to settle his mother’s estate.

Northcutt said there have been no similar complaints about Schatz during his time at Watsonville.

“I didn’t know that there was any investigation in 2009 and we had no clue about last year’s,” Northcutt said. “It was a big shock, because he’s done a good job with the program.”

Schatz served as the head volleyball coach at Christopher High and Anzar High before landing the Watsonville gig in 2016.

Schatz stepped down from his position at Christopher one week into the 2012 season — his second with the Cougars.

Then-Christopher Athletic Director Darren Yafai, still a teacher today at the Gilroy school, did not return emails asking for details on Schatz’s resignation before press time.

Calls and messages into the Gilroy Unified School District seeking comment were also not returned before press time.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Anzar Athletic Director Mike McKinney said he had no prior knowledge of the 2009 allegations against Schatz when the school in San Juan Bautista hired him in 2014.

Schatz coached at Anzar for three seasons, but was not asked to return after 2016, a tumultuous campaign in which Schatz was suspended for a portion of the year after getting into a heated verbal argument with one of the student-athlete’s parents.

McKinney said he never received a complaint from a parent or student-athlete about inappropriate behavior in a sexual nature.

The complaints against Schatz during his time at Anzar were rooted in playing time, discipline and on-court performance.

“He was pouty — he didn’t take losing very well — and he played favorites with the girls who played club for him, but it was never anything like the allegations in 2009,” McKinney said.

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