Castaic’s CIF champion basketball coach fired  

Castaic head coach Dominique Butler, center, holds up the plaque with the team as they celebrate winning the CIF Southern Section Championship on Friday, Feb. 23. at Azusa Pacific University. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
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Four days after leading Castaic Coyotes boys’ basketball to a CIF title, head coach Dominique Butler and assistant coach Ty McKinney were dismissed by the William S. Hart Union High School District, which cited screenshots of “inappropriate communications online between players and coaches.” 

Butler said he met with district Assistant Superintendent Collyn Nielson and Castaic High School Principal Vince Ferry on Wednesday, when they delivered the news of Butler’s ouster. 

“We were surprised,” Butler said on behalf of his coaching staff in a phone interview. “We just finished our first-round state championship game and just won CIF. It caught me by surprise, but they felt it was necessary for them to move on.” 

According to Butler, screenshots from a group chat between players and coaches were leaked to the district featuring messages in which players made inappropriate remarks to one another. The district made the decision, citing a lack of leadership from the coach.  

Butler contends the screenshots were from before the team’s CIF Division 5AA run, and with the meeting being held the day after Castaic lost in the state tournament, it appears the administration let the team play out the season knowing one loss would be the coach’s last.  

“The screenshots that they had were from even before we won CIF championship,” Butler said.  “If the kids are in a detrimental situation or our leadership wasn’t up to par, then respectfully they shouldn’t have let us coach as soon as they got them. It just seems like they just did it to avoid a lawsuit rather than doing the right thing.” 

The screen shots featured a handful of incidents that Butler says he shut down after each inappropriate comment from players.  

The coach wasn’t planning on leaving the program but said he had felt a level of discomfort in his two-year tenure, leading him to consider leaving on his own terms. The coach said he and the team felt a lack of support from certain administrators, but even through the turmoil, Butler admired his team for keeping their heads up. 

“I’m extremely proud of the boys because they felt the lack of support and they still powered through everything to reach the ultimate goal, which was the CIF championship,” Butler said. “It’s always been about them and that’s what we made it about. We saw (the lack of support) a year or two ago, which we kept notes on the whole time. So it was just a matter of time before either we decided to step away or they wanted us to step away. It was bound to happen, but we just stayed focused and locked into the ultimate goal. And we achieved the ultimate goal.” 

The district released the following statement regarding the situation:  

“This year, the boys varsity basketball team brought immense pride to their school and community by winning a CIF championship. This remarkable accomplishment deserves to be recognized and celebrated. 

“However, in the days following the championship, we became aware of some inappropriate communications online between players and coaches. Earlier this year, a team chat was established with the intention of sharing information among team members. Unfortunately, some of the content within this chat is unacceptable and does not align with the values of our district or the Castaic community. 

“Two coaches who were involved in the inappropriate communications will no longer be a part of the Castaic program. Principal Ferry has personally communicated with both players and families to provide clarity on the situation and discuss the necessary steps forward. 

“We understand the disappointment and concern this may cause within our community. As we move forward, we remain committed to upholding the highest standards of respect, integrity and sportsmanship within our athletic programs.” 

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