Chris Noonan, cross-country and track coach at St. Francis High for the past three years, has been fired from that position.
Noonan, who guided the Golden Knights to a 27-1 record in dual- and tri-meet cross-country competition during his tenure, said he was fired by St. Francis principal Tom Moran for "professional incompetence."
Tim Weir, a newly hired teacher at St. Francis, has been named as Noonan's replacement.
Noonan, 33, said the firing came after Moran was notified of an initiation that newcomers to the St. Francis cross-country team underwent at a weeklong training camp in Big Bear from Aug. 11-18.
The initiation involved covering new team members with shaving cream and mustard, and writing on their chests and arms with felt-tip markers, according to a team member who asked not to be named.
Noonan said he didn't know about the initiation until the morning of Aug. 14, when he saw writing on the upper torso of several team members. The source on the team confirmed this, saying that the initiation took place toward the front of the six-bedroom house while Noonan was asleep in a back room.
After reprimanding the team for conducting the initiation, Noonan figured that was the end of it until two days later when Moran said that he'd received complaints.
Peter Brang, vice principal at St. Francis, went to Big Bear on Aug. 16 to investigate and two days later Noonan was called home by Moran, who fired him.
"He and I have never gotten along and I think this was just a way for him to get rid of me," Noonan said. "He's really hurt me because I've been so involved with that team. My life has basically revolved around that team for the past three years."
Joe Koeper, father of St. Francis team member Kevin Koeper, said that "about 95%" of the parents of team members and the runners themselves signed petitions criticizing Noonan's firing.
"This is a personality thing between Chris and Tom," Koeper said. "He didn't deserve to be fired. Nothing that bad or that drastic happened."
Noonan said he has hired a lawyer to help remove any inaccuracies from his record.
Moran could not be reached for comment.
Cal Lutheran's Brian Collins scored a pair of goals but the Kingsmen lost a nonleague match to Westminster College, 5-3, in overtime Friday in Salt Lake City.
Ryan Kaufman had seven saves for Cal Lutheran (0-1).
The Master's College started the 1995 season with a pair of victories, beating Cal State Stanislaus and Dominican College on Friday in the Stanislaus tournament at Turlock.
The Mustangs were extended in a 15-4,11-15, 15-10, 11-15, 15-11 victory over Stanislaus (0-1) as Heidi Elliot and Wendy Jones each had 18 kills.
The Master's surrendered only six points in a 15-0, 15-2, 15-4 victory over Dominican (1-1) as Rebekah Sheeley led the Mustangs with six kills.
Darren Walton, Cal State Northridge's leading returning rusher with 301 yards, will find out on Wednesday if he is academically eligible for this season.
Walton was to meet with an instructor to discuss a summer-school grade on Friday, but the meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday.
Littlerock tackle Morgan Montgomery quit the team Friday for personal reasons.
Montgomery, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior, was one of three returning starters on the offensive line and a projected All-Golden League player, Coach Jim Bauer said.
Justin Reinier, an All-Golden League fullback and linebacker, said he was not dismissed from the Antelope Valley High team, as was reported Thursday.
Reinier said he left on his own and has enrolled at Highland. The 6-0, 215-pound senior said he intends to join the ROTC program and play football at Highland, where he has attended practices the past few days.
Contributing: Jeff Fletcher, Dana Haddad, John Ortega, Tris Wykes.