Rich Schimke apparently will not return to the team he led for 17 years after the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District announced Thursday that it’s searching for a new head football coach.
“The varsity head football coach/director of sport position is currently open and applications are being accepted,” district spokeswoman Martha Clayton wrote in a statement to The Tribune when asked for an update on Schimke’s status moving forward. “All applications will be screened, and interviews will be scheduled during the month of January.”
Schimke was removed from his coaching position after an incident involving a player during a postgame celebration in October. Video obtained by The Tribune in November showed Schimke pouring syrup on a consenting player in the locker room while other players watched and cheered.
Heather Moscato — the mother of the player, Joe Moscato, seen in the video — said that after pouring the syrup, Schimke leaned over and licked it while it was in her son’s belly button.
Bob Bartosh, Schimke’s attorney, said Schimke poured the syrup but did not make contact with the student and only pretended to lick the syrup.
Heather Moscato learned of the Oct. 14 incident on Oct. 19 when she was sent the video. A few days later, she notified the Paso Robles Police Department.
After a three-day investigation, police determined that no wrongdoing occurred. The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District conducted a separate investigation.
The video led to Schimke being placed on paid administrative leave.
Schimke was cleared of any criminal misconduct and has since been reinstated as a teacher after members of the community came to his defense, but he was not on the sidelines for the final three games of the 2016 season. Assistant coach Matt Carroll filled in as interim head coach.
Clayton, the spokeswoman, offered no other details about the district’s action, and neither Schimke nor Paso Robles athletic director Anthony Morales could immediately be reached for comment. Schimke has declined to answer questions about the incident since the news broke in October.
After word of the district’s search for a new coach spread Thursday, Paso Robles senior and quarterback Steven Schouten tweeted his continued support for Schimke.
“One of the greatest coaches ever at Paso in addition to being one of the best men I have ever known,” Schouten tweeted. “Can’t truly replace him.”
“Agreed,” tweeted senior wide receiver Seth Matthysse in response.