Town of Española split after basketball coach’s firing

Richard Martinez (KRQE News 13)
Richard Martinez (KRQE News 13)

ESPAÑOLA, NM (KRQE) – Rumors continue to fly about Española Valley High School’s basketball coach and why he was fired.

The Espanola Valley High School basketball team just took state for the second time. Weeks later, their controversial and successful coach, Richard Martinez, was fired.

“I think they’re wrong,” said Espanola Resident, Teresa Arellano. “They did wrong with him.”

Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez initially put Coach Martinez on leave. While sources told KRQE News 13 there were many issues, some students claim it was because of a team prayer before the state championship.

“I think the prayer was kind of like an excuse to get rid of him,” said Espanola Resident Mike Arellano.

Then on Wednesday, Superintendent Gutierrez fired Coach Martinez. Then the superintendent resigned.

“Why did she resign soon after Richard was fired, I mean there’s something wrong right there,” said Teresa Arellano.

For Martinez, the problems only continue to mount. KRQE News 13 has since learned that Martinez is currently being investigated by the Public Education Department. NMPED PIO Robert McEntyre says the investigation is for serious potential ethical and criminal misconduct. Officials cannot specify on the details of the investigation, but say Martinez’s license could be revoked if the allegations against him are found to be true.

“The department is investigating troubling allegations of misconduct at Espanola High School. We take these matters very seriously, especially allegations related to those in close contact with our kids at school. This licensure investigation is ongoing and we’ll refer any evidence to law enforcement if the claims have merit,” said McEntyre, in a statement released by NMPED. Espanola Police said they’re not investigating the coach and have not heard from NMPED as of now.

Even with the investigation, the town of Espanola is split. Some question the timing of the investigation.

“How come it took so long for them to bring that out now,” asked one resident.

Other residents said the investigation should be taken seriously.

“Yeah, I realize he won state, but let’s see what’s going on with the investigation,” said another resident.

Either way, both sides said they want clear answers.

Martinez has been in trouble before and was even fired and rehired. In 2014, he was accused of slapping a girl in PE class.

He was also accused of verbal abuse of players. He was suspended for a short time for that.

The Espanola Valley High School football coach who said he had the superintendent’s back also recently resigned.

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