By Jay Antenen
An assistant Pomona-Pitzer football coach inhabited the equipment room of the Rains Athletic Center for at least the past semester and hosted frequent parties there, The Student Life has learned.
Greg Baker, the former offensive line coach for the Sagehens and the former equipment manager for the Rains Center, apparently used the room as his permanent residence during the past football season. Daniel Wire ’01, an assistant P-P football coach, also slept in the room from time to time, students said. Baker could not be reached for comment and Wire declined to comment.
Students familiar with the living arrangement said Baker kept a couch, air mattress, Xbox, television, refrigerator, and microwave in the room. Christmas lights were strung across the ceiling. The students stressed that they viewed Baker in a positive light and did not have a problem with him living in the room.
One student, who had seen the room, said it appeared the room was set up for long-term occupancy.
“It was pretty strange, to say the least,” he said.
The Student Life spoke to numerous students who had seen the living arrangement in a corner of the equipment room. Additional students confirmed that parties had taken place there over the course of the past semester. Assistant football coaches fraternized with students and members of the P-P football team at some of the parties, students who attended the parties allege. All the students interviewed by The Student Life asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation.
In a posting to thefacebook.com “We Miss Coach Baker” webpage, junior P-P football player Matthew Toma, described the parties held in the equipment room as “a level of debauchery never to be seen at Pomona again.”
A student close to the Physical Education Department, who did not attend the parties, said she saw large piles of beer cans in the equipment room on multiple occasions.
The Director of Physical Education at Pomona, Charles Katsiaficas, said Monday that he did not know that Baker had been living in the equipment room.
“I’m willing to bet that there have been times when coaches have had late nights and early mornings and have possibly slept in their offices before. I know many coaches across the country that have likely done that at one time or another, but this is different from living there,” said Katsiaficas, after learning about Baker’s living arrangement.
Roger Caron, the P-P football coach, declined to be interviewed, but said Baker’s position as assistant coach was not relevant to the fact that he was living in the equipment room.
“I really have nothing to add to this discussion,” he said in a statement.
Dean of Students Ann Quinley said she did not know Baker was living in the equipment room, although she said she had heard that a coach had occasionally slept there.
Quinley noted that she was unsure if Pomona had an official policy barring faculty from living in campus facilities.
Katsiaficas said it might be understandable for a staff member to live on campus temporarily if he or she was in between places or moving, but long-term occupancy was not permitted.
“It certainly would not be normal policy,” said Katsiaficas.
The equipment room, located behind the front desk of the Rains Center, is used to store uniforms and other sporting goods for varsity teams, intramurals, and Physical Education activities. The room is supposed to be accessed infrequently.
“That is a storage area that we keep locked unless the equipment manager needs to go back to get specific equipment out when a season starts,” said Katsiaficas.
The week of November 21, a Student Life photographer requested permission from Rains Center student employees to enter the equipment room on five different occasions. In each case, she was told the room was locked. On the morning of Wednesday, November 24, a Rains Center student employee told the photographer she could not enter the equipment room because the coaches were sleeping.
Students who knew Baker described him as a funny, quirky man whom many student athletes respected.
“Personally, he has taught me more about life than any teacher or course, and I know that there are many players who will express similar sentiments,” said Paul Nesvig ‘05, a P-P football player, in a statement. “There are countless former and current players that hold Coach Baker’s friendship in the highest regard.”
“I can think of only a few people I respect more in this world then Coach Baker,” said Toma in a statement to The Student Life.
The student close to the Physical Education Department said part of the problem that might have contributed to Baker’s unusual living arrangement was that assistant coaches are paid a meager $1,500 stipend a season.
“It’s tough to recruit and scout and have it be a part time job,” said a student. “It’s a new extreme, though, to live in the equipment room.”
She wondered if Pomona should perhaps provide Baker with assistance in finding more suitable housing. Katsiaficas said assistant coaches are supposed to be volunteers and seek employment elsewhere to support themselves. Baker was a full-time employee of the College. In early November, Baker accepted a job at Aims Community College in Colorado. He left for Colorado a few weeks ago. Wire now manages the equipment room.
Katherine Mathews, Abiel Reinhart, and Julie Trescott contributed reporting for this article.