PCC Head Football Coach Thomas Maher was replaced by Interim Head Coach Steven Mojarro on Aug. 8, due to allegations of impropriety within the football program.
Alex Boekelheide, Executive Director of Strategic Communications & Marketing for PCC, released the following statement to the Courier:
“Alleged improprieties involving the football program have required the District to conduct an investigation,” Boekelheide wrote.
“Pending the outcome of the investigation, the head football coach is on administrative leave from his coaching duties and responsibilities. The investigation was recently initiated, and given the confidential nature of this personnel matter, the District cannot discuss or share anything further.”
Maher told the Courier by phone he could not comment on the allegations, but when asked if they pertained to either recruitment violations or academic violations such as changing grades, Maher stated, “I did not change any grades, I did not do any illegal recruiting.”
Previous Courier reporting showed Maher was the head football coach for PCC from 1996 to 2005 when he stepped down to assistant coach. In 1997 Maher worked as QB coach and recruiting coordinator for Fullerton college until his return to PCC in March 2016.
Maher was rehired as head football coach last year after a dramatic display by the football team who appeared at a Board of Trustees meeting to protest the replacement of then head coach Thomas “TK” Kaumeyer.
Maher led the team to a 4-6 season and 2-4 in conference play that year. Mojarro is in his second season at PCC, having served as an assistant offensive line coach during the 2016 season.
News of Maher’s suspension continued to unfold on campus Thursday afternoon. First-year football players expressed confusion and upset about being left in the dark.
Freshman Offensive Lineman Austin Mejia told the Courier that some of the players found out about the coaching change during a walk-through meeting on Thursday.
“We were pretty shocked,” Mejia said. “Some of us found out before on Instagram.”
Former PCC quarterback Jett Even, who now attends Mississippi Valley State University, spoke to the Courier through text message on Thursday about the allegations and coaching shake-up.
“Players tried to keep Kaumeyer. Kaumeyer always kept it 100,” Even said. “I don’t want to say nothing bad about anyone but Kaumeyer always did things the right way and made sure that everyone under him did the same.”
After breaking the news about the Maher’s administrative leave to the team, a coach was overheard instructing the team on how to handle any media inquiries.
“The paper lady [Courier Staff Writer] is right out front and right now we are in a situation where we don’t want anything to go wrong, or someone to say anything that is totally wrong, because I don’t know,” the coach said.
“What I’m trying to say is this — if anybody asks what is going on, or what you believe, I recommend you say this: ‘I am here to win a championship, I am here to be a student athlete at Pasadena City College and that’s why I’m here today.’ Don’t say anything out of the ordinary.”
No official statement has been released by the athletic department or Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien. However in an email to the Courier he said,“The college does not discuss ongoing investigations.”
The Courier also reached out to PCC’s Human Resources department regarding questions about the investigation process and to request an interview. The Courier received a voicemail back stating that they were unable to give an appointment and that they have, “No further comment on this.”
This story has been updated and will continue to be as developments follow.
This story was contributed to by John Orona, Kristen Luna, Allison Stutzka.