Hernando coach charged with indecent exposure

Boys basketball coach Tony Vasquez exposed himself to an undercover officer at McKethan Park in Brooksville, police say.

By DAVID MURPHY and AUSTIN BOGUES, Times staff writers
Published July 25, 2007

Hernando boys basketball coach Antonio "Tony" Vasquez was arrested by Brooksville Police Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly exposed himself to an undercover officer at McKethan Park in Brooksville.

Vasquez, 48, resigned as coach of the Leopards Wednesday morning, less than two months after accepting what he portrayed to be a dream job at his alma mater.

According to an arrest affadavit, Vasquez was at the park talking to an undercover officer when he told the officer that "sometimes people mess around inside the park, referring to conducting sexual acts." He then exposed himself to the officer.

Vasquez's attorney, Larry Disparti, said he was still "gathering information" about the incident.

Hernando athletic director Marion Jones said Vasquez resigned Wednesday morning, citing "personal reasons." Jones said he did not know about the arrest.

"He just gave (the resignation letter) to me and vacated," Jones said.

Reached at her office at Hernando High, principal Betty Harper declined to comment.

Vasquez's previous coaching job also ended in unsavory fashion when he was forced to resign after six years as the girls basketball coach at Pasco High. According to his personnel file, he was forced to take a six-week leave of absence and undergo anger counseling after two incidents in which he directed profanity at another school employee. In one instance, according to a written reprimand by superintendent Heather Fiorentino, he used insulting language in front of two students.

Vasquez said he underwent the required five anger-management sessions. He taught last year at Land O'Lakes High but did not coach.

When Hernando hired Vasquez to replace Jeff Laing on May 30, then-athletic director Brent Gaustad said the school was aware of the situation at Pasco, but that all of the coach's recommendations came back positive.

Vasquez was a schoolboy star for the Leopards from 1975-78, finishing his career with 1,073 points, which at the time was first in school history. That total has since been eclipsed by Jason Sartor with 1,437 points.

The events left Hernando scrambling.

Jamel Byrd, a sophomore who played junior varsity last year, said Hernando JV coach Matt Bucklin conducted practice Wednesday morning.

Vasquez had told some players that he was resigning because of "health issues."

Jones, who coached middle school basketball before being hired as athletic director, said it was possible that he would take over the program.

Laing, who recently took a job at Challenger K-8, said he doubted he would be asked to return as coach.