Maria Carrillo coach accused of mistreating players

Steve Azevedo, the Maria Carrillo High School girls' basketball coach with an impressive winning record, will not begin the season as coach of the Pumas amid allegations that he bullied and hazed players for several years.

Azevedo, 57, a longtime Sonoma County youth coach, is accused by a contingent of parents and players of degrading athletes, harassing them, using demeaning behavior and profanity and violating the California Interscholastic Federation code of conduct on role models and personal conduct, according to a letter from Gordan W. Egan, a Sacramento-based attorney.

The attorney also claimed that Azevedo has improperly used Maria Carrillo facilities as a platform for his private Gym Rats program, a youth basketball training operation.

He said he had received at least 10 complaints about Azevedo, two from students and eight from parents.

"As far as they have been able to determine, no investigation has been conducted, no action taken and his behavior remains abhorrent to the laws of California, the policies of the Santa Rosa City Schools, the California Interscholastic Federation, common decency and any standard of sports coaching," Egan wrote in the letter dated Oct. 23 and addressed to the seven Santa Rosa School Board members and school district attorney George Valenzuela.

However, Santa Rosa-based private investigator Chris Reynolds confirmed Monday that he has been hired by the school district, but would not comment on the parameters of his inquiry other than to say it involves a personnel matter.

"I am conducting an investigation on behalf of the district," he said.

Azevedo did not return calls Monday.

Several parents and others contacted Monday backed Azevedo, accusing critics of being miffed over playing time and Azevedo's aggressive style.

Those closest to the situation declined to comment Monday even as players, unsure of the team's future, headed into the gym for the first practice of the year.

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