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Embattled Española basketball coach, district reach undisclosed agreement

Through the spring and summer, the status of embattled Española Valley High School boys basketball coach Richard Martinez has been up in the air after he was fired following a season in which he guided the Sundevils to the Class 5A state championship.

Tuesday morning, Martinez’s status apparently has been resolved, but just how remains a mystery to all but a few.


Former Espanola Valley boys head coach Richard Martinez ( Eddie Moore/Journal)

Martinez and his attorney, Sam Bregman of Albuquerque, reached an agreement with the Española Public School administration, said Pablo Lujan, district school board president. The board had just started a closed session Tuesday morning to discuss the issue when it got word of the agreement, Lujan said.

But Lujan said he did not know the exact nature of the deal “It was negotiated,” Lujan said. “We’re waiting to see what it is. I don’t know what it is but I imagine we’ll know in the next few days.”

Bregman said he could not discuss the issue at this time. Coach Martinez and district superintendent Eric Martinez, no relation, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Athletic director Eric Vigil also could not be reached for comment.

The issue has been a galvanizing one in the Española area, as Martinez was a successful coach with 13 years at the helm and who had just won his second state championship in six years.

Shortly after then-superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez fired Martinez April 6, she herself resigned. Miguel Medina, the school’s most successful football coach, in protest of the Gutierrez’s departure. Medina’s position was subsequently was filled twice, as an initial candidate stepped down less than a week after taking the job.

The boys basketball coaching position remains vacant after it had been originally opened up – drawing the interest of several candidates – then abruptly shut down.

And Martinez has remained under fire as a state Public Education Department investigation showed that $1,000 was missing from a program fundraising account that the coach controlled and that he allegedly was abusive and demeaning to players and violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by revealing disciplinary actions against a player.