Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer program hit with 2-year postseason ban
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer program has been slammed with a two-year postseason ban after a former coach was found to have supplied special services for student athletes.
The playoff ban recently handed down by the California Community College Athletic Association is for the boys’ program only, but the sanctions also come with two years of probation that includes the entire athletic department, according to LTCC athletic director Steve Berry.
“We vehemently appealed to the CCCAA,” Berry said. “We looked at other institutions and other situations surrounding them, and we thought the sanctions were unjust. We’re obviously disappointed.”
Jeremy Evans, who has guided the successful women’s program for the past several years, was put in charge of the college’s entire soccer program this spring after former coach Nick Arbelaez left to become the head coach for men and women at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno.
The sanctions, according to officials, stem from Arbelaez’s tenure as coach.
Although he declined to give specific details, Berry cited the specific bylaw that the CCCAA concluded LTCC was in violation of. That bylaw deals with “subsidizing, inducements and special privileges.” It covers everything from payments to players and prospective players to obtaining housing for a prospect/student-athlete that is unavailable to other students at the college.
Arbelaez told the Tribune that he gave his “blood, sweat and tears” to LTCC and was “shocked, sickened and heartbroken” over the sanctions. Arbelaez said all he did was direct his players to a rental that was available on Kingsbury Grade.
He did so after the rental home that his players had been using for years was taken off the market three days before they were scheduled to report. The owner of the home, according to Arbelaez, informed him that she was selling the property.
The former LTCC coach scrambled and directed his players to a rental on Kingsbury Grade.
“The guys found a place, a five-bed house built for 14 people, 13 players could temporarily fit in there,” Arbelaez said. “The rules are pretty clear, you can guide them but not help.”
The specific language in the bylaw prohibits: “The obtaining, securing, or soliciting of housing for a prospect/student-athlete that is not available to all students at the community college.”
Berry told the Tribune that LTCC conducted its own investigation, aside from CCCAA’s inquiry, and said they both heard the same stories from players.
“He was too involved,” Berry said, while declining to give specific details. “We talked to players, and he was just too involved. He was providing services that are not offered to our regular student body.”
Golden Valley League Commissioner Gary Houser declined to provide specific details of what happened, but confirmed the sanctions and bylaw that was broken.
Important life lesson
For Evans, who has led the women’s team to historic success in recent years, the playoff ban for the men’s team is an obvious disappointment. But he is ready to move on from the ordeal and tackle new challenges.
“It’s certainly an unfortunate situation, but as the new head coach of this special group of young men, it’s my job to turn this into a positive experience,” Evans said. “My energy to coach this group hasn’t dropped a bit, it’s actually increased. We haven’t lost a single returner or recruit during this time, which is a testament to our current coaching staff and the culture we created this spring.”
Jaffet Corona, a returning sophomore from Reno, felt like protesting the ban when he first heard the news, but he said LTCC administration told him it probably wouldn’t do much.
“I was sad, angry and devastated, but mostly angry,” Corona said. “I felt like we had the potential to go far this season. I still have high hopes and my head up. We just want to compete and prove to the people who gave us the ban that they were wrong.”
Evans plans to continue LTCC soccer success
LTCC’s women’s program has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last few years spearheaded by Evans, while the men have been consistently strong ever since winning the conference in 2015, advancing to the final four and finishing the season ranked No. 7 nationally.
The Coyote men reached the NorCal final four last year and were beaten 1-0 by Fresno City.
The Coyotes have finished in second place in the GVC over the last three seasons.
The Lady Coyotes lost just one game last year (20-1-4) and that was for the state championship.
The women have lost just three games over the last two years and have won consecutive conference titles while allowing just two goals in two seasons.
Evans said his goals haven’t changed and that the men’s team can still compete for a league title and fight to be recognized in the national rankings. He plans to provide the best possible exposure so the players can transfer to four-year institutions.
“Beyond soccer, my hope is that our players will have learned an important life lesson along the way: that how you overcome adversity is more important than what created the adversity,” Evans said. “If we stick together through this, these young men will have a stronger foundation and be better prepared for life’s challenges after college. Perhaps even more important, they will have built important life-long relationships with their teammates, which is really what athletics is all about.”