An embattled Elk Grove football coach rescinded his resignation Tuesday night during a school board meeting.
Chris Nixon stepped down as Elk Grove High School’s varsity head football coach as the school district dealt with a controversy surrounding new building on campus for the football team.
“There was some confusion and having had a week to reflect I’m ready to be with this community once again,” Nixon said at the board meeting.
Nixon has been head coach for nine years and announced his resignation at the end of February. He then rescinded it a week later.
Parents and students came together to support Nixon, claiming he was forced to resign.
“At the end of the day, he wishes very much to be a part of Elk Grove football and continue as a football coach,” parent Josh Jordan said. “The resignation happened was more of a mandated resignation.”
Jordan is part of the group “Parents for Nixon,” which believes the coach’s resignation was due to a dispute over construction of a new football team room after the team’s previous room was turned into a classroom.
“We had a situation where football players were changing in their cars. They are literally changing on the sidelines,” Jordan explained, adding the football booster club raised money to build a new structure on campus.
“To build the structure at no cost to the district, and the district says, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’ That’s a win-win for everybody.”
“I’m truly sorry a building has become the focus of so much attention and trouble in the Elk Grove Unified School District,” Nixon said at the meeting.
“We understand we’re all human, mistakes happen and we’re accountable and we press forward,” said Lance Briggs, former NFL linebacker who was coached by Nixon in 1998 and 1999.
However, Elk Grove Unified School District explained the structure was permitted for use as storage — and was not authorized to house students.
“All I do know is that there was a stop put to it, and a gate put around it for the safety of students and staff so that they wouldn’t enter into the building,” school district spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton said.
Pinkerton added that the structure was also 900 square-feet, larger than the authorized size of 250 square-feet.
“Structures over 250 square-feet on school grounds require greater scrutiny, licensing, permitting and inspection prior to use,” she explained.
The district won’t comment if the construction played a role in Nixon’s resignation, saying it’s a personnel issue.
“I believe that mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility,” Nixon said.
“It’s football — you’re going to have highs and you’re going to have lows, you’re going to have losses,” Nixon added. “To me it’s important that it’s about the people, not buildings.”
The district said earlier in the day Tuesday that it was looking for Nixon’s replacement.
“Understandably, they might be upset with changes that are happening,” Pinkerton said. “There’s already direction that’s been taken to look for a new head coach. So, things are moving forward.”
Students explained the head coach’s departure was abrupt.
“He’s loved by the whole community and people come out just to watch him coach. Our team has done great,” student Lauren Schoeneshoefer said. “I do not think that it was his choice.”
“My boyfriend is on the team and I just know it was a close-knit community that he’s created,” student Emily Hicks said. “I just think it would be a disservice to the school to not be upset about this.”
KCRA’s Vicki Gonzalez and Natalie Brunell contributed to this story.