Not long after Temecula Valley High School football players received their championship rings in early May for bringing home the school’s first CIF Southern Section football championship in 28 years, a photo surfaced on Twitter.
In the photo, posted to the @LeagueTruths account, several Temecula Valley High School coaches appear to stick up their middle finger toward the camera. The post was accompanied by the statement, “Hey parents. Go play for this stand-up crew.”
The photo appears to be a screen shot grabbed from another account, though it is unclear where the photo originated or who took it.
On that same day, photos were also taken and posted to Twitter on another account claiming to show a TVHS football coach holding training sessions at Los Alamos Park in Murrieta.
The park was officially closed to the public at the time the photos were taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The individual who posted the photos alleged that multiple TVHS athletes were participating in the workout and criticized the action.
Valley News learned in late May that TVHS and Temecula Valley Unified School District was investigating the matter.
On Tuesday, June 16, Laura Boss, public information officer for TVUSD issued a statement regarding the results of the investigation.
“The Temecula Valley Unified School District is aware of photos circulating on social media of Temecula Valley High School football coaches hosting activities, displaying their middle fingers, and players practicing during closures related to COVID-19,” Boss wrote in the statement. “Coaches convened these activities without knowledge or approval of site administration.
“TVHS and district administrators worked together during the last few weeks to investigate the complaints and the parties involved,” Boss said. “TVUSD maintains the highest expectations of professionalism for all staff, including coaches. In addition, TVUSD implements the CIF Victory with Honor Program with all of its coaching staff.”
Boss then provided an excerpt from the program:
“First and foremost, teachers have a duty to assure that their sports programs promote important life skills and the development of good character. The essential elements of character-building are embodied in the concept of sportsmanship and six core ethical values: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship. The highest potential of sports is achieved when teacher-coaches consciously Teach, Enforce, Advocate, and Model (T.E.A.M.) these values and are committed to the ideal of pursuing victory with honor.”
Valley News has reached out to people associated with the team to find out if any coaches, including head coach Bert Esposito who was pictured in the photo using his middle finger, have been let go.
Again, the district would not elaborate on whether any action was taken, explaining that the district would not be releasing the results of actions taken, if any, due to restrictions on divulging information on personnel matters.
“We have followed our established administrative procedures, fully investigated this matter, and taken appropriate action to address the concerns raised during the investigation,” Boss said. “We consider these matters fully resolved. Because these are personnel matters, neither TVHS nor the district is at liberty to share the details of the actions.”
Last fall, the Golden Bears won the Southwestern League title before winning the CIF SS Division 7 title and moving on to the CIF Division 3AA State Regional championship bowl game before losing to El Camino High School.
“This team exceeded more expectations and won more than any team in program history,” Esposito said after the loss. “The experience of this season I am sure has been life-changing. It has been for me. I know the memories will be with them all forever.”
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.