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Former players, associates defend Hawkins

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

Following an article published by EdSource and shared on Plumas News regarding Jason Hawkins’ tenure as a baseball coach at San Jose State University, former players and associates have come to his defense.

According to the article, a complainant accused Hawkins of making sexual and racial statements during his time at San Jose State. A Title IX investigation, that involved interviews with the complainant, as well as at least 30 witnesses and Hawkins, concluded that he had violated California State University’s anti-discrimination policies based on Title IX. Hawkins resigned from San Jose State in 2018 before any disciplinary action was taken.

Hawkins was subsequently hired by Plumas Unified School District in 2019 to be an English teacher at Quincy High School. At the time the article was released on Sept. 8, Hawkins was Quincy’s High’s vice principal and athletic director. He is currently on administrative leave pending an investigation. PUSD Superintendent Bill Roderick announced that decision on Sept. 8 as well

Plumas News secured a copy of the amended investigation report that was published in 2018 and was used in the EdSource article. The complainant and witnesses’ names were redacted. According to the complaint, the allegations included inappropriate comments and jokes of a sexual nature in team meetings and activities; inappropriate racial comments and inappropriate name calling and disrespectful behaviors directed toward staff and student athletes.

Since the incident became public, Plumas News has received letters of support from former players and associates. While some were willing for their names to go on the record and their letters were printed in the opinion section of Plumas News, others were hesitant.

In an effort to provide balanced coverage, Plumas News is sharing some of the comments made here with generalized descriptors of those who make the remarks. The individuals interviewed for the investigation were not identified, as their names were redacted.

Letters of Support

Justin Watland is a former San Jose State baseball player who was coached by Hawkins. He consented to sharing his letter of support and the full extent of his remarks can be found here. Watland described Hawkins as “not only an amazing coach, he was a mentor, role model, and today I consider him a great friend.”

Former San Jose State baseball coach Sam Piraro also sent in a letter for publication and wrote “I consider him a friend and a very capable educator. I vouch for Jason Hawkins.”

Following are some remarks made by former players and associates:

San Jose State baseball player No. 1:

“In no way shape or form did I ever think I would have to write a letter like this. I am upset and frustrated that a coach I trusted and admired is having his name tarnished. To me and multiple of my teammates who played under Hawkins, it is despicable that the recent articles have come out and resulted in his suspension as a professional.

I have never questioned Hawkins’ intentions as a player. He is very committed to the development of his players as athletes but more importantly as a person. Hawkins’ teaching and coaching has shaped me as a man, husband, competitor, and friend/teammate. I will always have respect for him and the way he taught.”

San Jose State baseball player No. 2:

“While I was at San Jose State I never witnessed any wrongdoings or poor behavior by Hawkins. Quite the opposite. He treated everyone fairly no matter their background and cared about their success individually, as well as collectively with the team. His focus went beyond baseball and focused on developing us into men that will benefit society as good employees, fathers, and friends. I attribute many of the awards I have received such as Finance Student of the Year at Point Loma Nazarene University and PacWest league honors, for athletics and academics, to the values that Hawkins instilled in me as a freshman at San Jose State University. He taught us the importance of time management, mental health, and work ethic. I truly believe that Hawkins helped shape me into the man I am today.”

San Jose State baseball player No. 3:

“Coach Hawkins impressed me with his coaching style. He was very professional, and always trying to get the best out of every individual on the team. He was and still is a great coach, and a great person. I was able to see what a real division 1 program was all about. Coach Hawkins spent hours on the little things. Those were the times where he impressed me the most. He wanted every small detail to be ideal for the team’s success. He harped on routines and how important they were. He would be hard on us about representing the school in a professional manner. He made sure we attended the other sporting events and cheer on our fellow student athletes. Coach Hawkins always had an energy to him that was all about winning.

“Coach Hawkins was a strict coach in my time there, but never crossed the line. He, just like many other coaches across the country, demanded excellence from all of his players as he should. I never experienced a negative conversation with him once in my fall semester with him as my head coach. The team really liked him as well.’

University of Utah player:

“I played for Coach Hawkins for two seasons at the University of Utah. In those two seasons I learned more about what it means to be a man of discipline, integrity, and respect than I did in my entire college career. The accusations I’ve read against him are completely off base and I’d like to take the opportunity to vouch for the kind of man he truly is.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play for a lot of great coaches & Coach Hawkins is at the top of that list. You won’t meet many coaches who take as much pride in their job as he does. He is professional, disciplined, and a true leader who cares about his players. I believe I became a better person because of him and his dedication to his team and the people around him.

“Not once did I experience anything remotely close to sexual or racial harassment. Period.

“He is a great coach and an even better person.  He is completely undeserving of this character attack. I hope this will all be cleared up soon, I learned a lot from him and it would be a shame to rob these kids of that same experience. “

University of Redlands coach:

“Jason worked tirelessly with our players on their individual needs and with our group as a whole. His work ethic, forward thinking, passion and excitement for the student/athletes and the game of baseball, lead me to promote Jason to our recruiting coordinator position. As our recruiting coordinator, he was trusted to identify and evaluate prospective student/athletes for our program. In this role, he worked directly with our prospective student/athletes and their parents to help ensure them that the University of Redlands would be a safe and productive place for them. The student/athletes Jason help teach and bring into the University of Redlands, had success in the classroom, on the field, and subsequent success as great citizens once they graduated.”

Retired administrator from the Greater Albany Public Schools District:

“Jason was an extremely hard worker who was loyal, dedicated and motivated to help student-athletes succeed, both in baseball and in life.  Always at the ready, Jason never balked at spending extra time and effort to help develop any player on the roster.  In short, Jason was a tremendous asset to our program and was good for kids.  I know him to be a good man, good father and husband, and a steadfast professional educator.”

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