By Dan Gudino
Eric Marty resigned his position as football coach on Feb. 26 amid allegations of damaging fire alarms in his office.
The Monterey Park Fire Department was summoned to East Los Angeles College Feb. 6 on a fire alarm response. Marty responded with his side of the story.
“People around ELAC can say and will say whatever they like. I resigned to pursue other professional opportunities,” Marty said.
Inside Marty’s old office at Weingart Stadium was a fire alarm box, which Marty described as constantly beeping. According to Marty, the proper protocols were taken to remove the fire alarm box.
“I put in the proper work orders three weeks prior (to Feb. 6). I went through the proper protocol,” Marty said.
A number of the athletic department personnel who declined to be mentioned by name all had the same story about Marty and the fire alarm and said Marty pulled fire alarms out of frustration due to a beeping sound in his office.
“The beeping sound didn’t allow me to work in peace in my office. In the month of January, I did not get paid and I worked for free,” Marty said.
Marty worked for free in January because the off-season did not require coaching. Marty felt in order to progress the program, he had to work overtime, for free.
ELAC Sheriff’s Department declined to comment and declined to disclose the fire alarm report. The Sheriff’s Department was next to Marty’s office at Weingart Stadium.
Instead, the sheriffs told Campus News the report was not available to the public and in order to receive the report, they would have to request it through ELAC administration.
Upon receiving the request for access to the public report, ELAC administration used what is called the Public Records Act to withhold the report stating that under the Public Records Act, police records cannot be granted to the public.
Thorough research was conducted on the Public Records Act. It was discovered the administration wrongly withheld the public report, claiming it as an “exemption”.
This exemption under the California Public Records Act states, “Police reports, rap sheets and arrest records are exempt.”
This fire alarm incident was thus protected by administration under a police report exemption. This raised questions about the reason behind Marty’s resignation. Was Marty forced out ?
“I got paid $25,000 a year. I got paid less than these janitors on the campus. I ran this program like USC, a division one program, working over 50 hours per week,” Marty said.
Many in the athletic department said a new coach was hired within an hour of Marty’s resignation.
Bobby Godinez, formally a defensive coordinator from Victor Valley College, is now ELAC’s new head coach.
“I told administration I did not want to know what happened with the old coach. We’re trying to move forward with this team. We’re all about getting better and preparing these students in the classroom and on the field. We’re ready to move on. Again, I don’t know what happened,” Godinez said.
Players from the team responded with their own side of Marty’s resignation. Some said they will transfer, some said they would give Godinez a chance, some were not sure whether they would stay and play for ELAC. One hundred percent of the two dozen players spoken to said he was forced out because of pulling fire alarms.
Pulling a fire alarm without any reason is considered a felony under California law. Penal Code 148.4, Chapter 7 Other Offenses Against Public Justice, states:
Willfully and maliciously sends, gives, transmits, or sounds any false alarm of fire, by means of any fire alarm system or signal or by any other means or methods. (b) Any person who willfully and maliciously sends, gives, transmits, or sounds any false alarm of fire, by means of any fire alarm system or signal, or by any other means or methods, is guilty of a felony and upon conviction is punishable by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision
“I was shocked when I heard Marty was leaving. He’s the reason why I came here. He’s the one who recruited me. I feel it wasn’t fair about how this situation was handled by the bosses (administration). He did so much for the program,” freshman defensive back Corie Railey said.
Many suggested his age and a disappointing 2-8 record helped push Marty out.
“They (administration) didn’t like him. He was too young for them and (his) record didn’t help at all,” sophomore wide receiver Iheanyi Obinna said.
Marty’s age was consistently brought up by seven different players.
“Marty is 29. He’s too young. We have players who are around the same age as Marty. I never had a coach that young in my whole life. When I spoke to him, it never felt like a player-to-coach conversation, (but) instead, a player-to-player conversation,” defensive lineman freshman Francis Bongwalanga said.
Marty also failed to connect with many players.
“This new coach (Godinez) understands us. His wife is Black. He gets us all because we’re all Mexican and Black here. Marty understood the X’s and O’s of football, but didn’t get our adversity with personal problems. He would say push through and make football number one. That wasn’t enough. It’s not all about football,” Bongwalanga said.
Marty felt he did so much for the ELAC football program but conditions for football players were not up to winning standards in his eyes.
“This job was not about rebuilding. It was building a program. The conditions for the players are poor. We have a locker room that is older than I am and then some,” Marty said.
New lockers are currently being constructed at Weingart.
Many are uncertain of their future at ELAC, whether to transfer or not. All but one of Marty’s assistants remains on the new coaching staff.
“It’s not what I’ve expected so far. It’s definitely a more mature staff that has taken over, we have more people focused on the players, yet I’m 50-50 about my future here at ELAC. I might stay. I might leave to play somewhere else. I don’t know. I’m waiting till later in the year to find out what’s up,” freshman wide receiver Trey Adkins said.
For those who are Marty’s recruits they feel they are left in limbo about the resignation. The uncertainty comes from what Marty sold recruits on.
A trio of transfers from Los Angeles Harbor College. Freshman Kyeree Wallace, Cemaj Douglas and Tyler Frey all transferred together from Harbor with the intentions to play under Marty.
Marty sold the players on playing at the a higher level and getting scholarships.
From the 2015-2016 season only five players so far have officially signed to a four-year college or university.
“It’s unfortunate that Marty is gone. I need to make sure to take care of my sophomore year in order to go play at a four-year. I can’t afford to play around and mess up my last year. Marty genuinely cared about us,” Wallace said.
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