High-profile retired Riverside County district attorney Grover Trask will now look into allegations about eligibility and recruitment practices within the football program at College of the Desert.
The investigation was called at Tuesday’s College Board of Trustees meeting after a story appeared in Sunday’s edition of the Desert Sun newspaper.
“It felt like a personal attack and it was gut-wrenching,” said Thomas Armstrong, a College of the Desert coach.
The article claimed more than 56 percent of Roadrunners players were recruited from out-of-state schools.
“There were a good amount of players from the valley but most were from out of state,” said Adrian Perezchica, a former Roadrunners linebacker.
Perezchica, a Cathedral City native, believes there’s good reason behind the high number of out-of-state players.
“The valley kids, athletes, they don’t think much of the COD program, so the coaches are kind of forced to go out of state and find better athletes out there. I don’t blame them,” he said.
Armstrong believes it’s the desert that lures many of the player to the Coachella Valley, not necessarily the recruiting.
“College of the Desert is a community college located in an area where we have a lot of people coming in from all over the country,” he said.
The investigation will also take a look at the athletic department’s disciplinary actions. A move that comes after police shot and killed a former COD football player during a robbery in Palm Desert earlier this year. Police have also arrested other COD players for other crimes.
Armstrong said the school has already taken action both on and off the field.
“The big misconception that’s going on right now is that College of the Desert has not done anything about students who have misbehaved or committed crimes. Truth of the matter is, most of the students we’re talking about were removed from athletic teams,” he said.
“Everyone was disciplined, so if there was anything you did wrong you felt it,” said Perezchica.
Armstrong said the football program is prepared and plans to cooperate fully with the investigation.
“I think the best thing to do is be completely transparent. If anybody wants to look into it, if there are any allegations, we’re more than happy to let anyone look into it,” he said.
However, Armstrong said it’s already creating collateral damage to players who have moved on to play at four-year colleges and are now having to once again pay the price.
“One of the things that’s very hurtful about the article is the young men who had their mugshots in the article. Stories that were rehashed,” said Armstrong.
Trask will be asked to provide regular updates to the board about his investigation.
Armstrong said the investigation could shine a light on the areas within the athletic program that need improvement and that the school is willing to make changes.