Community wants answers after popular basketball coach let go

SANTA ROSA, N.M. (KRQE)- “The whole town is just really shocked,” said Keith Ross.

Santa Rosa’s newspaper headline confirmed the rumors that have swirled around town.

“Looking for answers, no one really knows what’s going on or why they’d let him go,” said Ross.

Coach Joe Esquibel, who everyone at Santa Rosa High, calls “Coach Eska,” is no longer the head basketball coach.

He’s taken the team to the state tournament five years in a row — including a loss in the championship game at The Pit just last month.

“And the reason they gave was just a different direction,” said  Angelo Romo.

But the principal of the school refuses to say what was wrong with the old direction, and a coach loved by so many players and fans.

“He’s a great educator, he’s a great role model, I don’t see how they could find anybody better,” said Romo.

Angelo Romo’s son plays on the team, and said he’s devastated.

“He was in tears when he found this out at a mid school track meet that he was helping with, he just broke up in tears,” he said.

Coach Eska’s family, friends and supporters have made signs and t-shirts to show their concern.

“I’ve worked with Joe probably 14, 15 years in different sports, football and basketball, and I’ve never seen him do anything inappropriate, I’ve always seen him put the kids first,” said Assistant Varsity Coach David Chavez.

He said the school isn’t explaining much.

“I have my thoughts and you know, I won’t share those at this point, but I believe it’s for the wrong reasons, for them to let him go and not really have anything that justifies them letting him go has been very upsetting to me,” he said.

Esquibel is keeping his job as a history teacher at the school, but other than saying they’re moving in another direction, the principal said there’s no further comment.

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