A bizarre incident combining football and maple syrup has led to a sticky situation in a California community.
Video obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune shows a California high school football coach pouring syrup into a player’s belly button during a postgame locker room celebration on Oct. 14.
Longtime Paso Robles head coach Rich Schimke had been placed on paid administrative leave last week after school district officials were notified of an “incident” involving a student that took place several weeks back.
Heather Moscato, the mother of player Joe Moscato, told The Tribune that after pouring the syrup, Schimke leaned over and licked it while it was in her son’s belly button. Bob Bartosh, Schimke’s attorney, said Schimke poured the syrup but did not make contact with the student and only pretended to lick the syrup.
Per the Tribune, Heather Moscato learned of the Oct. 14 incident on Oct. 19 when she was sent the video. Several days later, she notified the Paso Robles Police Department.
Per the Paso Robles Daily News last week, the Paso Robles Police Department investigated the incident and consulted with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. According to the report, both agencies agreed that nothing criminal occurred involving the student and Schimke and that no criminal charges would be filed.
The Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, however, is conducting a separate investigation.
The school district has reviewed the video “and is concerned about what occurred,” according to a statement from Paso Robles district superintendent Chris Williams.
“I do not have permission from the school district to talk about this matter,” Schimke wrote the Tribune via text message on Tuesday.
According to reports, the incident began after a game between Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo when Joe Moscato, 17, received a bottle of syrup as part of an impromptu award given to the offensive player with the most pancake blocks.
“(Schimke) put a dab in (Joe Moscato’s) belly button while the whole team and coaches were in the locker room cheering it on,” Heather Moscato told the Tribune of what she saw in the video. “What my son told me is that he put his tongue in the syrup.”
There is a bit more detail.
“My son said he didn’t slurp it out, he didn’t put his lips around his belly button, but any of it, even the motion, even if he is trying to claim he didn’t stick his tongue out, which is untrue, based on the reactions of everyone around, if he just pretended, there wouldn’t have been such a high-volume reaction,” Heather Moscato told The Tribune during a phone interview Tuesday.
Bartosh, an attorney in Ventura, Calif., told the Tribune that Joe Moscato asked for the syrup to be poured on him. After pouring the syrup on Moscato, Schimke then pretended to lick it off, according to Bartosh. Another source inside the locker room that night confirmed this version to the Tribune.
Heather Moscato issued a statement on Facebook on Saturday defending her decision to alert authorities.
Schimke, who has been the Bearcats’ head coach since 1999, remains on leave. Assistant coach Matt Carroll has been named as the interim head coach for the football team, which is 7-2 and visits Atascadero Friday night.