Coach charged with providing alcohol

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TRUCKEE -- Two coaches and a parent are accused of providing beer to 40 members the 3A champion Tahoe-Truckee Wolverine girls' soccer team at a November party.

Varsity soccer coach Michael Holman, 46, assistant coach Eric Paul Jitloff, 21, and parent Mark Ross, 43, were all charged by Nevada County District Attorney Michael W. Ferguson with misdeameanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor and furnishing alcohol.

The two counts carry a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and $30,000 in fines, said assistant district attorney Fred Holmes, although a lesser penalty is more likely.

The charges stem from a party in Glenshire in mid-November, held to celebrate both the boys' and girls' soccer teams winning the Nevada 3A State Championship.

According to the results of an investigation by the Truckee Police Department, Coach Holman gave assistant coach Jitloff $30 to buy beer for a celebratory party with the knowledge it would be consumed by minors.

The party, believed to have been held Nov. 11, 2001, was at the home of Mark Ross in Glenshire.

According to Tahoe-Truckee High School Principal Mike Finney, Holman has already stepped aside as girls' soccer coach for one year, until the matter is resolved.

"He resigned as coach," Finney said. "You could call it a self-imposed suspension. That's the step he has taken."

"I would call it a self-imposed year's suspension," said Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District Superintendent Pat Gemma. "Right now he's no longer the coach, and he's not going to be the coach next fall."

Tahoe-Truckee High School Athletic Director Bob Shaffer said Wednesday that the future of Holman's coaching career was undecided.

"There hasn't been anything done on our end yet," Shaffer said. "We'll have to sit down with the administration and see what to do."

On Tuesday, Ross said he had no knowledge of the charges against him and declined comment. Holman could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

A spokeswoman at the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in Reno was unable to say Wednesday if the high school soccer teams may suffer some form of sanction as a result of the charges. NIAA Executive Director Jerry Hughes was unavailable for comment.

No minors have been charged over the incident, said Truckee Police officials.

At least one parent of a soccer team member said she felt the charges are extreme.

"I'm enraged, and I think it's sad," said Chris Spencer, whose daughter was on the girls' soccer team. "I do not agree with underage drinking, I don't agree with adults contributing alcohol to minors, but my concern are the Gestapo tactics used by our law enforcement and the deceit they chose in conducting this investigation."

A concerned parent contacted the police in December and triggered an investigation of the party.

"I was fully aware that a party was going to go on," Spencer said. "I knew there would be alcohol there, and my daughter went and chose not to drink."

Gemma said that the district stands by its zero-tolerance policy toward teen drinking.

"Drinking and alcohol is a problem in many communities just as it is in this one," Gemma said. "I believe that it's time we deal with it and I believe that Mike Holman is an individual that's given us an opportunity to talk about this."

Suzanne Prouty, parent of a soccer team player and a former member of the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District board, said that the party was planned to protect the students. Her son also attended, and did not drink, she said.

"This definitely shouldn't have happened, but these people were trying to protect kids, and they were doing it the only way they understood," she said.

Both Prouty and Spencer, however, cited another party held for players of the football team and their parents, who also won the state championship last fall. Alcohol was allegedly served to minors at that party, also.

"At the same time there was a football party (with alcohol)," Prouty said. "Now you have the community saying nobody filed charges there, so where's the consistency?"

Superintendent Gemma defended Holman's conduct, saying that while he made a mistake that his coaching career has been commendable.

Gemma said he would support Holman's re-hiring to coach soccer in the fall 2003 season if he is acquitted of the charges against him.

"I would support the high school hiring him back," he said.

According to a signed declaration by Truckee Police Department officer Roy Richner, the TPD spent nearly a month investigating the claims and found more than sufficient evidence for the district attorney's office to charge the three men.

"On Dec. 13, 2001, I was told there had been a party for the Truckee High School soccer teams after the boys' and girls' teams won the state championship," Richner wrote in the statement.

"At the party, there was Budweiser beer as well as hard liquor consumed by numerous minors."

Some money for beer was allegedly collected by students on the bus as they returned from the championship matches.

Holman told Richner, according to the statement, that he was very proud of the soccer team and they deserved to celebrate. He also allegedly said that after winning the previous year's championship, some team members had stolen alcohol from area stores and their parents, and that he didn't want that to happen again this year.

"Everyone has learned a lesson," Holman is quoted as saying in the report. "Students, parents, Ross, me."

In the report, Holman is quoting as telling investigating officers, "I got caught up in the moment of winning state."

Mark Ross was first approached by Richner on Dec. 15, 2001 in a phone interview. Ross admitted hosting the party at his home in November with knowledge there was alcohol served, although he did not provide it, and that at one point he left the party unsupervised by adults.

Holman, Ross and Jitloff have been told to appear in Nevada County Court on March 4 at 9 a.m. for a hearing, Holmes said.


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