Women’s basketball head coach Joe Peron returned to his coaching position for his 20th season in 2015-2016 after being suspended following violations that occurred toward the end of last season.
After 19 seasons of coaching at PCC without committing any violations, Peron was “guilty by association” for a recruiting violation and was accused of a housing violation that would’ve left one of his players in the streets. She asked him for help one night and he was there to help her. The original ruling was a one-year suspension that wouldn’t affect his teaching.
After investigations and several months of waiting, Peron’s penalty was lessened to an eight-game suspension and the women’s basketball program was placed on probation for four years with one year of formal probation and three years of informal probation.
Peron, speaking during public comment at the Board of Trustees meeting on September 3 alongside nine of his current players, thanked the board and Trustee William Thomson for influencing further investigation in his case. Peron also thanked Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien for trusting and believing in him and his program. He said at the end of the day it’s about his players and their expectation when they agreed to attend PCC.
During a previous board meeting, Thomson called for an investigation into this matter. Senior Vice President and Assistant Superintendent for Academic and Student Affairs Robert Bell was responsible for the investigation but was unable to comment about any details.
Vurdien said the decision to bring Peron back to his coaching position was “my decision.”
Former point guard Shay Jackson decided to follow in a few of her peers’ footsteps and trust her coach’s advice after high school and move away from home in Oakland to play for Peron.
“[Peron] helped me with life in general … he was always there. I hadn’t seen my mom in about two or three years and my first game here was the first time she had ever seen me play college ball. Coach P actually put my mom in a hotel,” Jackson said. “Coach P taught me a lot about family. I was always big on family and when I looked at Coach P and Coach Gary, I looked at them like my family. That’s all I had coming from Oakland.”
When Peron was told on Aug. 24 that he was able to return to his team, Peron remained humbled and only wanted to continue moving forward.
“I want to thank Gary L. Moody, the NAACP, Delano Yarbrough, former Vice President Ernestine Moore, Pastor Ed Smith, Leve N. Ross, Vice President Jackie Jacobs, Dr. Vurdien, the Board of Trustees, Trustee William Thomson, the Union, representative Mark Whitworth, past administers and managers, my current players and alumni, the Pasadena community, and my family for all of the support,” Peron said. “Thank you all for sticking by me and fighting for me throughout the whole process.”
In a Board of Trustees meeting on June 17, after Peron was told he was suspended, one of his former players Ashley Campbell stepped up to the podium with her two children and spoke on behalf of Peron. Campbell played for Peron from 2001 to 2003. She was one of eight people who spoke about him during that meeting’s public comment section.
“He was more than just a coach. I came into PCC from a broken home … and [the court] was my lifeline,” Campbell said. “No, he didn’t pay for a hotel room for me when I didn’t have a place to stay, but one thing he did was tell me I was wrong when I was. He taught me life lessons.”
Captain and point guard Judith Espinoza was the only person on the night of June 17 who was able to speak about the current team’s state of mind and how they coped with the news of their coach’s suspension.
“A team is much like a puzzle. Each piece is just as important as the other whether it’s a center or a corner piece,” Espinoza said. “Without every single piece coming together, we are incomplete and unsuccessful. You can spend time trying to make another piece fit into our puzzle, but at some point one must realize that they are not to be placed somewhere they do not belong.”
According to PCC’s athletics page, Peron has a 76.7 win percentage. He moved past 450 career wins in February and he hopes to coach well beyond 500 career wins. His return to the sideline should be in December for the Sequoias Tournament in Visalia.