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Coach Placed on Leave; Rio Grande Get 1st Win

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rio Grande High School on Thursday put head football coach Randy Gutierrez on administrative leave pending an investigation into alleged misconduct.

“There will be an investigation and we’ll go from there,” Rio Grande principal Linda Sink said. She would not elaborate, saying it’s a personnel issue.

Gutierrez late Thursday told the Journal: “She (Sink) said she was gonna have to let me go. She said she cannot have me coaching here.”

Asked if he interpreted that as being fired, Gutierrez said: “That’s the way I’m taking it.”

The Ravens on Thursday night won their first game of the season, beating winless Atrisco Heritage Academy 27-7 at Milne Stadium behind a pair of touchdown runs by Drew Lundvall. Longtime assistant Sam MascareƱas is serving as interim coach.

A group of about 20 to 25 Rio Grande parents met with Sink on Thursday. Danny Lamar, whose son plays for the Ravens, was at the meeting and said the group asked Sink to remove Gutierrez as head coach and told her that they disapproved of the way Gutierrez verbally relates to players.

Gutierrez was not at the meeting.

“I’d say I’m pleased (that Gutierrez was suspended),” Lamar said. “We’re about change right now at Rio Grande.”

Gutierrez said parents never came to him with their concerns first before going to Sink. One Rio Grande parent who asked not to be identified confirmed that.

While Gutierrez is suspended from coaching, he remains a physical education teacher at Rio Grande. An APS spokesman said the investigation would take a couple of weeks.

Although the season is almost over for Rio Grande, Sink said Gutierrez’s situation warranted immediate attention and could not be postponed until after the season.

Gutierrez, 38, is in his seventh year as Rio Grande’s head coach. He is a 1990 graduate of Rio Grande. He served as an assistant at West Mesa for three seasons before the Ravens hired him in 2004.

Gutierrez’s record is 26-44. He said he is going to look for another coaching job for 2011.