Robert Gomez, who was notified in March that he wouldn't be back as Pajaro Valley High's athletic director, won't return as the school's boys basketball head coach, he was told Wednesday.
The only varsity boys basketball coach in Pajaro Valley's history, Gomez said he was informed of the school's decision by assistant principal Alison Niizawa. Gomez said he met with Niizawa on Wednesday to turn over his keys and other items relating to his position as AD. He said he was expecting to also discuss his coaching duties for the 2013-14 season with Niizawa.
However, Gomez, who plans to take classes at San Jose State to earn his teaching certification, believed the discussion would revolve around his class schedule during the winter basketball season.
It was at that meeting that Niizawa informed him the school would not retain him as its basketball coach.
Gomez, who informed his team of the news Thursday, said he was shocked by the decision.
"I was kind of blind-sided by it," said Gomez, who would have been entering his eighth season as basketball coach at P.V. He spent four and a half years as the AD. "They thought I needed to concentrate on school and not be the coach anymore."
Pajaro Valley Principal Frank Rodriguez, who returned a phone call placed to Niizawa, did not specify the reason for Gomez's departure.
"Robert no longer works at Pajaro Valley High, nor the district, as of June 30," Rodriguez said. "His contract ended."
When asked why Gomez would believe he would be returning as boys basketball coach in the winter, Rodriguez said, "I don't know where that came from."
In December, Gomez said he was told he would need to attain a teaching credential to remain as AD the following school year. Gomez, who raises three children, said earning a credential online proved to be too costly and time-consuming.
In March, Gomez said, he was notified that he wouldn't be back as AD, with his final day on June 30.
Gomez, who was originally taking classes to earn his certification when he became AD at Pajaro Valley five years ago, was comfortable taking the year off to earn his credential and seek employment afterward.
But he said he was under the assumption that his coaching position remained in place, regardless of his role as AD. Teaching credentials are not required to coach, while the majority of the coaches at P.V. are off-campus coaches.
Gomez said he initially thought his class schedule at San Jose State might interfere with his coaching duties. But, after receiving the class schedule, Gomez informed Niizawa Wednesday that he could remain as basketball coach.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Gomez said of the school's ultimate decision.
Gomez said his class schedule conflicted with "a few Thursdays" during the season, but he had a "capable" assistant coach in Joe Diaz who could fill in when needed. Diaz coached alongside Gomez last year at P.V., as well as at St. Francis of Watsonville and Palma, where in 1992 he was a part of the state championship team.
"I definitely thought that it was going to be my choice if I came back next year," Gomez said. "But it doesn't seem like that's going to be the case."
The Grizzlies reached the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs last season for the first time since 2009 and compiled a 12-13 overall record. With a strong core of returning players next season, including the league's Most Valuable Player in Mark Hinojosa, Gomez said he believes the Grizzlies can compete for a league title in the Monterey Bay League Pacific Division.