Lemoore High football coach Shannon Pulliam said he’s been placed on administrative leave and will not coach the team in Friday night’s Central Section Division II championship game at Ridgeview because of a fight involving three players.
Pulliam said the incident occurred following practice Monday outside the team’s locker room and out of his sight and resulted in a player breaking his foot and another being punched in the jaw.
The Tigers’ four-year coach said he was told by school principal Rodney Brumit he’s being investigated by the school for allegedly promoting the brawl with hazing.
“I’ve never been involved in hazing or any knowledge of that kind of stuff in 25 years as a coach,” Pulliam said Friday afternoon. “By no means do I condone anything like that. I am totally innocent.”
Lemoore is chasing its second Central Section championship in Friday, having won the D-III title in 2005.
Pulliam did say, shortly before the fight and in a practice-ending team gathering, that a player’s birthday was mentioned by a teammate.
“I said, ‘Spank his ass.’ I mean, that’s what every red-blooded American does. That’s tradition, right?” Pulliam said. “But then I immediately said, ‘Kidding. Just kidding.’
“Nothing happened. We went to the locker room and everything was fine. But, outside of the locker room, apparently one of our players went after the kid, and a fight started. Then another kid got involved.”
The two players who fought the teammate with the birthday also have been suspended for Friday night’s game, Pulliam said.
Pulliam said he will watch the game against Ridgeview in Bakersfield from the bleachers, as permitted by Brumit.
School athletic director Brady Holaday – the team’s offensive coordinator last year – will act as interim coach for the 10-2 and second-seeded Tigers against No. 1 and defending champion Ridgeview (12-0) with current coordinators Dean Cardoza (offense) and Scott Silva (defense) assuming their normal roles.
9Consecutive games won by Lemoore heading into Friday’s championship
Holaday couldn’t be reached for comment.
Pulliam said he was interviewed Tuesday by a Lemoore Police Department officer assigned to the campus but hasn’t heard since from law enforcement.
He said Brumit, in a three-person meeting also involving Holaday on Wednesday, suspended him indefinitely as a coach but not as a physical education teacher.
Pulliam said he left campus following the meeting and hasn’t returned.
He is 36-12 at Lemoore and previously coached at Sunnyside from 2004-09 and Sierra in 2010-11.