STOCKTON -- The Stockton Unified School District voted 6-0 Thursday night to place athletics director Joe Martin on paid administrative leave while officials investigate his role in a football recruiting scandal.
The move came on the day the district accepted the resignation of longtime Franklin football coach Tom Verner.
Verner and Martin have been at the center of a controversy surrounding the improper recruitment of players from American Samoa.
After Franklin started three players deemed ineligible in a game last Friday, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section delivered some of the harshest sanctions against a high school program in state history, barring the Yellowjackets from playing any football games until 2010.
School board president Anthony Silva said he hoped Verner's departure and Martin's review would show the district is doing all it can to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
"We didn't take this action for the CIF. It was the right thing to do," Silva said in an interview after a packed special meeting at district headquarters. "But we are always hoping the CIF will reconsider its decision."
The board is trying to figure out how the decision was made to play the ineligible athletes. In closed session, the board interviewed district superintendent Jack McLaughlin about his role. Silva said the board won't take any action against McLaughlin.
The recruiting scandal has been the talk of the town for six weeks, with many Franklin students saying they're being punished for the behavior of adults.
The scandal erupted after CIF investigators issued a report detailing 54 rules violations by Franklin. The report accused Franklin coaches of paying parents from American Samoa to fly to Stockton with their sons. The coaches put up the families in hotels long enough for the students to enroll at the school.
Martin couldn't be reached for comment.
Silva said he didn't know how long the internal review conducted by district legal counsel would take.
"We need to look into what happened, why it happened and how we make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.
Franklin senior Zethanii Smith said after the meeting the ordeal has been tough on students. She said football is a point of pride for the school, and students feel Franklin's name is being dragged through the mud.
"Students are just sad. That's the word they use," said Smith, a member of the school's color guard. "I hope they recognize they're taking this seriously and let us play."