Every week across the country, some high school coach or another will get into trouble. The traditional protocol after that happens is for the coach to serve a brief suspension pending an investigation, and then either be dismissed or return to action once the investigation wraps. That is definitely not what's happening in Florida, where Daytona Mainland High School coach John Maronto is coaching his team's third game of the season tonight, just four days after being arrested on allegations that he was soliciting prostitution.
According to OrlandoSentinel.com and the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Maronto returned to school and his team for the first time since he was arrested Saturday night earlier today, just in time for tonight's Buccaneers face off against Port St. Lucie Treasure Coast. Maronto's immediate future was uncertain for three days after his arrest, but the Volusia County school district eventually decided he would return and continue as physical education teacher and football coach until the court case surrounding his arrest is resolved.
"All the assistant coaches have done a great job, and from what they've told me, the kids have had a really good week of practice," Maronto told the Daytona Beach News-Journal, declining to comment on the legal allegations against him. "I think they're going to come out ready to play against a really tough opponent."
Maronto's troubles couldn't have come at a worse time for Mainland's football program, which dropped its first two games of the season. With pressure over those results mounting, Maronto's arrest brought even more scrutiny. The program refused to make players or assistant coaches available to the media this week in an attempt to keep the team's focus on tonight's game, all while school officials have tried to keep their decision about the coach's future under wraps.
That decision came down Tuesday, with Volusia County schools spokesperson Nancy Wait citing legal rationale and Maronto's clean prior record for maintaining Maronto's role.
"We did not make any determination of innocence or guilt," Volusia County schools spokesperson Nancy Wait said late Tuesday afternoon. "We're just looking at whether he was any sort of threat or concern to our students.
"It was determined that we won't be making any judgments as to what did or did not happen. Nothing in this case leads us to believe that coach Maronto is in any way a threat to our students. We're basing our decision to have him return to his positions on that.
"There are no disciplinary actions in his personnel file for the past 17 years he's been with us,'' Wait said. "This is a misdemeanor charge, and he has not been convicted of anything."
While the legal reasons for standing behind Maronto are clear, the circumstances surrounding his arrest are troubling. An undercover Daytona Beach police officer claims to have video and audio of Maronto offering $50 for sex on Saturday night, according to OrlandoSentinel.com.
He told the officer he wanted a "date" and told her to get in the car, the report states. But she told him she had a motel room and asked, "What are you looking for?" she wrote.
"Sex!" he replied, according to the report. When she asked how much he as willing to pay, Maronto replied, "I have $50!" the report states.
Maronto continues to maintain his innocence over the charges, providing the Volusia school district with reason to stand behind him. Whether that continues after the coach's eventual trial is another question entirely.
"All we are asking is that the press allow this matter to play its way out through the legal system," David Damore, Maronto's attorney told WESH-TV. "Once that does occur, we are confident that his good name will be vindicated and he'll continue to be the coach at Mainland."
Photo courtesy Volusia County Jail