Skip to comments.Crossing the line: A tainted record [Male coaches & sex with pubescent girl players]
Posted on 01/13/2005 5:28:51 PM PST by ppaul
Hire him and he produces - just as he did with the Rio Grande High School girls program, which he molded from a 1-23 squad in 1991-92 to a state champion by 1998.
"He was the type of coach who built rapport with his players," said Pete Pino, now Rio Grande's athletics director and Ravens boys basketball coach during part of Simmons' tenure. "He was well-respected."
But others say another side to Simmons exists - one that tainted his bright coaching career and lately has spawned increased concern in Albuquerque over relationships between young female players and their adult male coaches.
In November, Simmons was arrested by Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department detectives and charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor after a player on his Rio Grande team from 1994-98 raised accusations against him.
Simmons' arrest is the latest in a long string of allegations that followed him after he left Rio Grande - and before he arrived in Albuquerque.
Simmons has recently been named in two other cases. A junior high school female coach with San Marcos High School in San Marcos, Texas, accused then-head coach Simmons of sexual harassment in 2002. Simmons then moved to Midland Lee High School in Midland, Texas, where he was indicted in March on charges of indecency with a child.
Similar allegations are being investigated in Colorado, a prosecutor said.
Georgia Garman, a deputy district attorney for Bernalillo County, told the Midland Reporter-Telegram that her office is investigating allegations through the University of Colorado, where Simmons was an assistant with the women's team.
Colorado asked Simmons to resign after the 1991-92 season.
Coach Ceal Berry said Simmons' resignation was a personnel matter that she will not discuss.
Simmons was charismatic and driven on the court. His coaching abilities rarely have been questioned - certainly not by former Rio Grande players who recall how he took a dead-end program and built it, year-by-year, into a state title contender that won with teamwork and cohesion.
But some ex-Ravens now wonder about what might have been happening behind the scenes.
"Now that I look back, there was a possibility that it was happening," said Tamara Twinn, who played with Simmons' accuser at Rio Grande. "I knew they spent time alone. I guess I never saw it happening, but maybe I just didn't know."
Jack Jacks, Simmons' lawyer, said neither he nor Simmons would comment for this series.
FRIDAY, JAN. 14
SATURDAY, JAN. 15
Simmons' case is one of several high-profile incidents over the years involving female athletes and their male coaches in the Albuquerque area. Yet it's difficult to define the scope of the problem here.
In the 2003-04 school year, for example, Albuquerque Public Schools said 39 sexual harassment complaints were filed. But the district couldn't find records to comply with The Tribune's request for the number of parents or students who have filed complaints about a coach, male or female, in the past decade.
APS spokesman Rigo Chavez said the district can provide records only on an individual-case basis.
Such numbers are more easily gleaned in other parts of the country, and in those places, they point to a troubling trend of sexual misconduct by coaches:
The Seattle Times investigation found that 159 coaches in Washington state from 1993 to 2003 were fired or reprimanded for sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to rape.
In 2001, the Houston Chronicle reported more than 60 instances in a four-year span during which Texas high school or middle school coaches lost their jobs as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct.
With those alarming numbers as a backdrop, it's easy to understand why this issue has drawn concern from parents, peers and coaches in Albuquerque.
"(Sexual misconduct) is a problem, and I don't know if there's a solution to it," APS Athletics Director Ken Barreras said.
In the absence of hard numbers, there is this reality: If your daughter plays high school sports in Albuquerque, she's much more likely to be coached by a man than a woman.
According to Albuquerque Public Schools, 2,680 girls participated in sports in the 2003-04 school year. But of 330 head and assistant coaches in fall and winter sports in the 2004-05 season, 282 are men, or 85 percent.
"Every program needs to have at least one female coach, and that's not always the case," said Gary Tripp, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body for high school sports. "That is one major area that needs to be improved."
Barreras said extensive background checks, fingerprinting and diligent reference checks of coaches would keep athletes safer.
But while APS does conduct background checks on its coaches, Barreras acknowledges coaches with a tainted history can make it through a school system without notice.
A criminal background check can detect criminal charges on the record of an incoming coach. But if a complaint was filed against a coach at a former school and the district didn't find enough evidence to validate the complaint, the former school doesn't have to report anything, Barreras said.
Tripp said school districts throughout New Mexico should become more aware of such coaches. He also lobbies for more extensive background checks by school administrators and the hiring of more female minority coaches.
"In a lot of respects, you are playing roulette or a guessing game," said Tripp, a former principal at Rio Rancho High School. "Personnel files really get hard to uncover when you're looking at reference checks."
He said it's difficult to conduct thorough checks without violating privacy laws.
That doesn't sit well with some area parents, who wonder how much the districts know about their coaches - particularly those who are not teachers.
One parent, Jaymi McKay, mother of Sandia volleyball player Rose Morris, said Matadors coach Brent Black, 33, has won her trust, but she acknowledges it wasn't easy.
"The possibilities crossed my mind when I first met Brent and he wore his groovy sunglasses to practice," McKay said. "Have I ever checked it out? No. But here is a guy who is not much older than my daughter."
Black says he hopes to win parents' trust by welcoming any conversation they might want to have.
"You have to become an open book," he said. "I've never tried to shy away from parents."
Still, with the lopsided number of male coaches, the awareness of sexual misconduct has been brought to the spotlight far more often than it was five or 10 years ago.
According to a study compiled by Hofstra University Professor Charol Shakeshaft on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, 9.6 percent of all students grades 8 through 11 recalled unwanted contact or noncontact sexual misconduct from an educator.
Albuquerque cases have contributed to the mix. In 2003, the Rape Crisis Center of Albuquerque took complaints from 699 sexual assault victims, 1 percent of them involving a teacher as the alleged perpetrator.
Rape Crisis Center Director Crystal Carrasco said teachers or coaches usually aren't perceived as predators, in part because the victims often feel love or are showered with compliments and gifts.
"They're made to trust or love the offender," Carrasco said. "They're confused as to whether or not it's appropriate.
"Remember, athletes look up to coaches. And there's a lot of room for a coach to exploit that."
'He had his control over us'
According to a sworn complaint filed by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, that scenario played out between Dan Simmons and his former player in the 1990s.
The girl said Simmons and his wife Tracey were like a "family" once she started playing basketball her freshman year, the complaint states.
Soon, however, the girl and Simmons were having a sexual relationship that continued until she graduated in 1998, according to the complaint.
A rumor spread about Simmons and the girl in 1996, said Sheriff's Department Detective Jessica Tyler. Albuquerque Public Schools placed Simmons on administrative leave while it investigated an allegation of what was deemed employee misconduct.
When the time came to testify, the complaint states, the girl didn't speak about a sexual relationship with Simmons. The weeklong investigation was dropped, and a police report was not filed by the district's Human Resources Department, APS spokesman Chavez said.
At the time, Twinn said, she and and her varsity teammates discounted the possibility of Simmons carrying on a sexual relationship with a player.
Instead, they ostracized the girl and kept playing, Twinn said.
Twinn now says their actions spawned from "brainwashing" by their coach.
"We really did turn our backs on her," Twinn said. "He was very manipulative. He had his control over us, even if someone was having a conflict with the team. We would turn our backs on them instead of supporting them."
The girl finally came forward because she heard of Simmons' legal troubles in Midland and contacted Midland Police, said Tyler, the lead investigator in the case. The Tribune could not reach the girl for comment.
'She trusted him'
Simmons' case is not the only one to make headlines of late. In 2003, a young Rio Rancho coach, Philippe Rodriguez, lost his job after a relationship with a girls basketball player. The case resulted in a conviction, and he was sentenced to three years' probation.
Rodriguez, 23, coached the Rams' ninth-grade girls basketball team, which included a 14-year-old girl who authorities said had a crush the coach.
Rodriguez apparently reciprocated by expressing his love for her through telephone calls, said prosecuting attorney Joseph Arite.
Rodriguez often told her his marriage was shaky, and she believed her coach would leave his wife and marry her, Arite said.
The relationship apparently turned sexual in March and April 2003. The girl, whose family declined to comment for this story, talked of her loving relationship with Rodriguez during the trial.
"She trusted him," Arite said. "She characterized all this as consensual. People assume that a sexual penetration case is when the man knocks the girl over the head and drags her to the bushes. This was a gentle situation. But that doesn't make it right."
Rodriguez was to face up to three years probation for one count of criminal sexual penetration but has appealed his case. A decision on his appeal has not been made.
Rodriguez declined to comment when reached at home by telephone.
Another high-profile case involved former West Mesa High School volleyball coach Charlie Guess.
Guess enjoyed success on the court but made unwanted headlines for his off-the-court relationship with a player that derailed his coaching career.
The Mustangs garnered seven state championships under Guess in the '80s and '90s, making him one of the most celebrated volleyball coaches in Albuquerque history.
His APS coaching career ended abruptly when the Mustangs coach pleaded no contest on Oct. 16, 1992, to a charge of sexual penetration of a player on his 1986 team.
Guess, who still lives in Albuquerque, could not be reached on his cell phone.
Onetime football coach Jim Smelcer also found legal trouble from a player-coach incident stemming from years back in another state.
In 2003, Rio Rancho hired Smelcer before it was revealed he had made an Alford plea to a charge of harassing a 16-year-old female student while he was a high school teacher and coach in Colorado in 1995. An Alford plea is an acknowledgement of sufficient evidence to convict a person but not an admission of guilt.
After a story in The Tribune recounted the Colorado case, the coaching position was reopened, and Smelcer didn't get the job.
Though Smelcer still pleads his innocence, he said his family has endured turmoil from this public issue.
"At school, my three kids would hear that their dad's a pervert," Smelcer said. "And it was a family pride type of thing, too - when your name's out there, it's hard for your family to swallow."
Smelcer is now the athletics director of Rio Rancho Mid-School and would consider coaching again, he said.
But the recent episodes of coach misconduct have male coaches taking precautions in their relationships with female athletes - or other girls under their authority.
"A lot of sports have female (student) trainers," said Highland football coach Ralph "Judge" Chavez. "You have to be really careful and have common sense."
"Hey, meet my teenage daughter's coach!"
ALL SMILES - Dan Simmons, former Rio Grande
girls basketball coach, is met by media at the Albuquerque
International Sunport after arriving from Houston escorted
by Bernalillo County Sheriff's officers.
So they should hire a female?
Have you seen some of the female PE teachers? They are just as likely to chase after the girls as a guy would be.
I can understand why they would be leery about passing the info on. The former school district could be sued for invasion of privacy by passing along unsubstantiated rumors. If they can't substantiate it, why would they pass it on? It's not fair to have your former employeer pass along unsubstantiated accusation which could ruin your career.
If people want justice for their children, send the case through the criminal process. Don't let the school "investigate."
Too much ball dribbling.
No, seriously, that behavior is sickening.
Kill all the men.
A couple of weeks ago a local judge just reaffirmed the sentence. He's been in prison for a year and a half now. Pretty sad all the way around.
Phil Hendrie had a pretty hilarious take on this last night.
ppaul seems to have gone off the deep end.......
Title IX sends teams to grave
FUNDING: While the law has aided women, its led to loss of mens programs
The National Wrestling Coaches Association, along with organizations representing students and alumni at three universities, brought a lawsuit against the Department of Education on Jan. 16. They argued that a rule the department adopted in 1996 discriminated against men's sports teams.
My, how things have changed in 30 years.
When signed into law in 1972, the Education Amendments were intended to engender women's participation in all levels of higher education. It was born of an era when women's rights groups were pressuring legislators to level the social playing field between genders, an era when the playing field was quantitatively uneven.
As a result of Title IX of these amendments, female participation in intercollegiate sports has increased fourfold a sign of real progress in the direction legislators intended. But what transpired in federal court this January was something Richard Nixon couldn't see coming.
The three universities involved in the lawsuit Bucknell, Marquette and Yale had all recently lost their intercollegiate wrestling programs.
What went wrong?
While few dispute the progress it has allowed in the area of gender equity, the proportionality requirement of Title IX nonetheless has a controversial ripple effect, emanating directly from men's football programs across the country.
"As it relates to proportionality, I don't know if (Title IX) has had the desired outcome 30 years later," said Betsy Stephenson, UCLA associate athletic director and senior women's administrator.
In a nutshell, the effect develops as follows:
Title IX requires that schools provide equal opportunities for men and women. When this principle translates to sports, a school's athletic department must ultimately allocate scholarship money in proportion to participation by each gender.
For example, if 60 percent of a school's athletes were women and 40 percent were men, its scholarship budget must be held in the same proportion.
Among most schools' men's programs, football demands the most participants, and consequently, the most scholarship money. In addition to scholarships awarded to potential starting players, a coach must seek out enough backup players to fill a complete roster (due to the relatively high risk of injury in the sport).
Compounding this upon all other football expenses, such as the cost of equipment, it suddenly becomes a very expensive program.
This puts a strain on the other men's sports programs. With football eating up such a large proportion of the men's budget, little scholarship money remains for smaller programs like volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.
At UCLA, 85 student-athletes are offered scholarships in football; the nearest women's equivalent is rowing, a recently added program which offers 20 scholarships to be divided among team members.
And if you compare women's programs to men's programs, the trend is clear: the women's basketball program is allotted 15 scholarships, men's, 13; women's tennis is allotted 8 scholarships, men's, 4.5; women's water polo offers 8 scholarships, while 4.5 are divided among the men.
Because of this, many universities face a dilemma when economic reality and Title IX collide head-on: as schools find their men's athletic budget growing disproportionately large, football despite its high operating costs is often the last to sport to be cut.
Such was the case at Bucknell and Yale, among other schools.
This has led a number of people to pose the question: could exempting football from the Title IX proportionality regulations be a viable solution?
"There are some really creative ideas when it comes to Title IX," said Stephenson.
She relates Title IX to a speed limit. If football were exempted from the Title IX equation, spending could theoretically spiral out of control. Under the current system, however, other men's programs are getting the short end of the stick.
A recent report published in Penthouse magazine ("Spoil Sports," March 2000) described the political battle at the heart of the matter and how college athletes are directly affected by it.
Author Jan Golab cited some revealing statistics: at the time of the article, over 350 NCAA men's programs had been terminated since 1991, over 100 wrestling programs had been eliminated overall, and only 26 schools had men's gymnastics programs.
UCLA is not immune to this phenomenon.
In 1993, two historically successful men's programs swimming and gymnastics were eliminated as an indirect result of Title IX. Peter Vidmar, a gymnast at UCLA from 1979-83, and a gold medalist in the pommel horse at the 1984 Olympics, disagreed with the amendment decision.
"Title IX was done with good intentions, but no one ever thought it through," he said.
With respect to gymnastics, Vidmar remains confident in the national junior program to cultivate future male stars in the sport. However, "what I lament is that these kids can't go to college," he said.
"We lose a lot of gymnasts around age 17. If they're a mid-level gymnast, they'll quit."
Because of Title IX, women's sports rarely face this problem. But should the rules be tweaked to prevent men's programs such as volleyball, gymnastics, water polo and swimming from possibly losing their NCAA sanctions?
Bob Toledo thinks so.
"I think football throws everything out of whack," the Bruins' head football coach said.
"There are just too many players, and on the other hand, we generate the most money for the university. If you keep cutting back football it affects the performance and outcome of your football program, and you aren't going to bring in as much money that could help the other sports."
And so the debate continues. The department of education recently requested and was granted a 30-day extension in its court feud with the NWCA. Mike Moyer, the executive director of the NWCA, doesn't expect further action until May 16.
But whichever argument prevails, certain athletes will be hurt by the system.
"No matter what line you draw, somebody's gonna be upset about it," said Karch Kiraly, a former UCLA All-American in volleyball (1979-82) and still the all-time winningest beach volleyball player ever.
Kiraly considers men's volleyball lucky to have survived at UCLA, but cites the fact that only 22 other Division I programs currently exist in the sport.
"The schools have got their hands tied, the only way that will change is if a new law is written," he said.
A new law. My, how things have changed.
50 years ago, that's what would have happened.
We've become weak and accepting of unacceptable behavior.
I know you are attempting sarcastic humor.
But if you found out a pervert coach was messin' with your daughter, would you be laughin'?
In my dad's generation, this would have been unthinkable.
But we're more progressive and open-minded now, right?
Actually if it was a female coach who had sex with an under 18 female player, the homo-advocates would be out in force to uphold this.
Male coaches should not be entering the girls dressing rooms. Female coaches should not be entering the male dressing rooms.
Perhaps locker rooms should have their "set up" redone to allow for privacy (modesty?) in dressing and the end of those group showing rooms from the ancient days.
the outrage has not changed, what has changed is that the author must have taken a feminist studies program that has defined all M/F sex as rape. This is about spin not the fact that this coach committed a criminal act.
I teach teens. Although I am old, fat and a burden on my family (ask Nick Danger), I would NEVER allow myself to be alone with one of them. I even refuse to take the babysitter home.
Hey, I am only human. And masculine. If I were to spend all of my time with these girls, and not enough time with my wife, I would want to be closer to them, if for no other reason than friendship and their attraction to their coach or teacher. I have read too many accounts of how this happens, from students and teachers alike. Don't buy the crap about the girls being victims. That is pure bullsh_t. They know what they are doing.
That said, it is a crime for a teacher to do such things, and should be criminally held responsible for the deed(s). Women and men alike that give caution a vacation (note I did NOT say 'take advantage') instead of using common sense get what they deserve... three hots and a cot to think about it, and how to restart their lives upon emergence from prison.
I saw friends go through this as teachers and coaches, mostly women, and I simply have seen no evidence that any kids ever felt taken advantage of. Quite the contrary. Even the male teacher I knew whose indulgence with a 13-yo student was more led on that the leader... and that loss of control was the demise of all in the position of trust they held.
Well, I guess this is a topic that stirs up strong emotions -- especially for every man who has a daughter. So we'll all cut each other some slack on this topic.
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