De Anza track & field athletes speak out on lack of support

January 16, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Track and field student-athletes from De Anza College in California were joined by coaches and alumni to air their grievances about the athletic department’s handling of various pending legal investigations stemming from their 2023 season.

The track and field team members had previously raised concerns during a meeting with De Anza Chancellor Lee Lambert in September 2023 while bringing up more grievances during a meeting on January 10.

de anzaA recent story from La Voz News detailed the college track and field athletes’ feelings of discomfort. Below is an excerpt from the La Voz News story.

One of the complaints was regarding preferential treatment between different teams, specifically between football and track and field. In an interview outside of the meeting, Head Track Coach and Assistant Athletics Director Nick Mattis said the track and field team was supposed to receive new equipment, which was ordered but then either lost or returned without a refund — high jump pits, pole vault pits and nets for hammer throwing, all totaling around $60,000.

Mattis said that the sports administration told him when he came back that there was no funding for the new equipment. However, the football team recently received at least seven new blocking sleds which cost over $2,000 a piece, with more new equipment inside a shed that La Voz was not able to access.

Another complaint alleged unprofessional favoritism within the teams by the athletic trainer.

Additionally, two female athletes came forward saying that members of the football team had sexually assaulted them in the fall quarter, one during a football game, and she said that the Title IX (Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in education) lawyer in charge of that case dismissed it despite that player confessing to assaulting her. The other said she never heard back from her Title IX lawyer. The athletes do not know why their cases were not addressed.

Robert LaVigne, 20, a communications major, the former Student-Athlete Advisory Council President and an athlete for both football and track and field, said that he is close friends with the student Mattis had a heated argument with, resulting in an investigation and him being placed on paid administrative leave in the middle of the spring 2023 season.

“Coach Mattis was just trying to teach. This (player) is somebody who’s like a brother to me,” LaVigne said. “What he did and how he went about it was not the way he should have. He didn’t go to coach Mattis himself and say, ‘I don’t want to be on the team;’ he simply said to himself, ‘I’m not going to show up any more and that’s what it’s gonna be.’ You have to understand that for a track coach, as somebody who puts in countless sleepless hours? That will irk your soul, somebody who does not care about something that you care so passionately about.”

To read the full story La Voz News, click here.