Capital High football coach resigns after allegations of ‘lack of supervision’ at camp

John Johnson led Capital High School football to five state-playoff appearances and a 73-38 record during his career. He resigned last week.
John Johnson led Capital High School football to five state-playoff appearances and a 73-38 record during his career. He resigned last week.

After 10 years with the program, Capital High School football coach John Johnson has resigned, effective July 13.

Johnson said Tuesday he was asked to resign because of a “lack of supervision of players” at a Central Washington University football camp in 2016.

“I acknowledge, whether true or false, the (allegations of) lack of supervision, and I take full responsibility as it happened on my watch,” Johnson said.

Multiple school and Olympia School District officials declined to comment on the situation Tuesday. Capital principal Curtis Cleveringa released a statement to football program families on Friday confirming Johnson’s resignation.

“If you have not heard, Coach Johnson resigned as Capital High School head football coach on Thursday, July 13, 2017,” Cleveringa wrote. “Coach Johnson has been the head coach at Capital for the past (10) years.

“We appreciate the time and effort that coach Johnson has given to the Capital High School football program.”

Johnson led Capital to a 73-38 record during his career, after coming to the school in 2007 from Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas. He briefly resigned in 2015, citing family reasons, but returned a month later.

Capital advanced to at least the district playoffs all 10 years under Johnson. He took the Cougars to the state playoffs five times, including semifinal appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Capital finished 6-4 in 2016, eventually losing to Ferndale in the Class 3A district playoffs after rallying to finish the regular season with four consecutive wins.

Johnson said he is disappointed. He will continue to teach social studies and history at Capital, but said he has not decided if he will pursue coaching positions elsewhere in the future.

“I’m not sure if I’ll ever return to coaching again,” he said.

The school posted its open coaching job on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association website on Monday. Capital athletic director Steve Bellande said the program hopes to have someone hired soon. Fall practices begin in August.

“I wish those boys the best of luck,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s resignation comes nearly five years after former Capital boys basketball coach Doug Galloway was relieved of coaching duties by the district. The Olympian reported in 2012 that the district dismissed Galloway for failing to provide adequate supervision of athletes at a basketball camp at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Galloway’s contract was not renewed in August 2012 amid an investigation of a hazing incident at the camp that June. The district upheld its decision despite appeals by community members.

“The district takes all allegations regarding mistreatment of students very seriously,” the district wrote in a statement last year. “As soon as we learned about these alleged events in the summer of 2012, we investigated, made changes in staff, conducted additional training for coaches, and changed our approval process for all overnight school-related events.”

In January 2016, an attorney for a former Capital student filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, alleging that the district should have done more to protect the student from a hazing ritual known as “BNDing.”

The suit was initially filed in Thurston County Superior Court in 2013, but attorney Darrell Cochran said he opted to move the case to federal court after doing discovery in the case. He said the school district’s negligence was so pervasive that the lawsuit qualifies as a Title IX claim.

However, the court sided with the district this January, granting the district’s motion for summary judgment. The court found that Cochran and his client couldn’t prove that the school district knew about hazing occurring from 2010 to 2012 — which was the basis for the Title IX claim.

The court also dismissed the allegations of negligence.

Staff writer Amelia Dickson contributed to this report.

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12