Former San Jose State baseball coach sexually and racially harassed players, investigation found



San Jose State University is coming under fire, yet again, for the revelation that another coach — this time the former baseball coach — quietly resigned in 2018 after an investigation found he had sexually and racially harassed his players, frequently degrading women, gay people and minorities during what he called “story time.”

The story, first published by EdSource after reviewing documents acquired through a Public Records Act request, is the latest in a string scandals to hit the university, whose president and athletic director resigned last year over their handling of a widespread sexual abuse case involving the former head athletic trainer and dozens of female athletes. Earlier this summer, the Bay Area News Group reported that the former women’s gymnastics coach, Wayne Wright, was forced to resign in 2018 after an investigation found he had relentlessly bullied team members, subjecting them to a culture of fear and intimidation.

In the latest revelations involving former baseball coach Jason M. Hawkins, the students subjected to harassment were members of the men’s baseball team. Many of the players were unwilling listeners, Title IX investigators with the university wrote, but believed they had no choice but to endure the coach’s lurid jokes and stories because of Hawkins’ power. They “were unsure what to do, so they would ‘just laugh,’” according to documents.

Hawkins, 51, resigned from San Jose State after he was placed on leave in 2018 following the investigation. He did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment from EdSource or from the Bay Area News Group on Thursday.

The investigation began on July 31, 2018, when an assistant coach filed a workplace grievance against Hawkins, accusing him of engaging in “sexual harassment (hostile work environment),” and making racial and other inappropriate comments, the report said.

Over a little more than two months, a pair of investigators interviewed 33 people involved with the team, including Hawkins.

In one instance, a Black player told investigators that Hawkins used a racial slur to celebrate after the player hit a home run. The player “stated he was shocked by the comment and felt he had no choice but to tell (Hawkins) it was ‘all good’ because he wanted to play,” an investigator wrote.

Hawkins at first denied to investigators that he used the slur, according to the document, but then changed his story and said he did but meant it in “a playful way.”

Hawkins told investigators he “believed this action was okay because the player had done something positive and additionally, the player did not object.”

Investigators also found that Hawkins used another racial slur to describe a team weakness “and looked directly at the Asian team members and laughed,” an investigator wrote.

Players told investigators that Hawkins also would try to degrade team members by making them wear pink practice jerseys as a symbol of weakness if they shuffled their feet instead of standing their ground in the batter’s box. The coach claimed to investigators that the pink “pennies” were meant to remind the players about breast cancer.

Then there was story time. To loosen up players before games, Hawkins would gather the team in a semicircle and try to make them laugh, for team bonding.

Pitching and hitting, he told the players, investigators found, was like touching a woman’s sexual parts. “You need to have some feel,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins admitted to investigators that he trawled the internet for sex jokes to tell the players. Sometimes he would make himself the protagonist. Other times he’d make one of the players the butt of the joke, naming them. He talked, too, about people having sex with animals, the report said.

“I felt uncomfortable when he said the jokes, but I never talked to the coach,” one player told the San Jose State investigators.

“The jokes were foul and unnecessary,” another player said.

A different player said he was upset when Hawkins inserted “my significant other” into a joke.

As the season wore on, investigators were told, story time became more unpopular.

“Some of the student-athletes indicated they could tell the assistant coaches were not in favor of the jokes by their behavior and facial expressions,” investigators wrote. “They stated the coaches would look away, put their heads down or not attend the pre-game story time.”

The document released about Hawkins’ Title IX case shows further problems in the baseball program under Hawkins that led to an NCAA investigation and a $5,000 fine levied on the school.

As Title IX investigators began their investigation into the workplace grievance filed by the assistant baseball coach, they received information that Hawkins had been conducting more team practices than the NCAA allows.

Hawkins was placed on administrative leave at San Jose State on Dec. 23, 2017.

No decision on how to discipline him was made before he resigned on Feb. 12, 2018, just days before that year’s baseball season was scheduled to begin. San Jose State issued a news release announcing the resignation but giving no reason behind it, similar to how it announced the resignation of the school’s women’s gymnastics coach. Players and coaches who gave statements to investigators either declined to comment when contacted by EdSource or could not be reached.

But Jason Laker, a San Jose State professor who exposed sexual harassment by a now-retired professor and settled a whistleblower lawsuit against the university, said Thursday that he is “disturbed and disgusted” by what he called “this longstanding pattern of willful ignorance by SJSU” and its “revolving door” of administrators.

For the past two years, the university has been dealing with the fallout of the scandal involving the former head athletic trainer Scott Shaw, who was allowed to continue working for more than a decade despite being accused in 2009 by more than a dozen female swimmers of sexual abuse. The university eventually settled legal claims among Shaw’s victims for $3.3 million, and the U.S. Department of Justice required the school to pay another $1.6 million to victims. Shaw has pleaded not guilty to federal charges and a trial is planned for next year. The university also settled a case last month with a former gymnast, who accused Shaw of sexual abuse, but also brought up the intimidation by the former gymnastic coach.

The finding that Hawkins had committed both sexual and racial harassment at San Jose State appears to not have been considered when Hawkins moved on to two other athletic jobs at public schools.

Hawkins is now an assistant principal and the athletic director at Quincy Junior/Senior High School in Plumas County, a job he took a few months after resigning from San Jose State. He’s also served as a volunteer assistant baseball coach at Feather River Community College in Quincy.

A San Jose State spokesperson told EdSource that the university’s personnel office had no record of receiving a request for a reference or employment check from the Plumas Unified School District about Hawkins.

Earlier this year, CSU trustees changed the system’s rules on giving references for employees who have resigned when facing Title IX charges as part of the fallout from the resignation of CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro amid allegations that he mishandled sexual harassment and bullying complaints against Frank Lamas, vice president of student affairs at Fresno State. Castro was president of Fresno State at the time.

Under the new policy, “CSU will not provide positive reference letters, either verbal or written, to any employee that engaged in significant misconduct, is under investigation, or had their retirement benefits rescinded because of misconduct.”

Bay Area News Group Staff Writer Julia Prodis Sulek contributed to this report.



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