OCEANSIDE — The Boys & Girls Club has terminated its popular Townsite Basketball Program, a free basketball training and skill-building program for kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
The program was abruptly ended in mid-November after it was determined to be out of compliance with policy and safety standards set by the national Boys & Girls Club of America. Because the program was noncompliant, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside was placed on provisional status by the national organization, meaning that the local charter could be revoked.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside, the local charter services more than 4,000 youth annually.
The Oceanside club’s board unanimously voted to terminate the program. That count includes Donal Yasukochi, the head coach who first started the program about 22 years ago.
Yasukochi said his hands were tied in the matter.
According to a letter from the national organization addressed to board President Gigi Gleason announcing that the local charter was being placed on provisional status, the club was in noncompliance with several safety operation standards that included failure to conduct background checks on volunteers and “operating a Club activity in a reasonable and prudent manner to protect children.”
But Yasukochi said he was told that all coaches needed to have background checks by Oct. 31, which he said they did. The letter addressed to Gleason was dated Nov. 1.
The letter also stated the club needed to “immediately cease the travel portion” of its basketball program, a major part of what the program does.
According to Yasukochi, the team played six games in playoffs in San Marcos on Nov. 1, two games for its league championships on Nov. 2, two more games on Nov. 16 and one game on Nov. 17 but under the name “Oceanside’s Finest,” with different uniforms and without using any resources or funds from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside.
Yasukochi said the program is unique because it has been free for the last 20 years and provides a safe place every Wednesday and Sunday evening for children to practice basketball.
Chief Executive Office Jodi Diamond told The Coast News that the board approved to terminate the program effective Nov. 21.
“We set a high bar for compliance with the procedures and standards set forth by Boys & Girls Club of America and adopted by our own chapter,” Diamond said via email. “Until such time as we meet that high bar, the Townsite basketball program, including all of its team competitions and practices, is no longer part of Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside and its program.”
Within the last few months, Yasukochi has had some disagreements over club policies governing the basketball program. Yasukochi had refused to sign a “collaborative agreement” document proposed by Diamond.
One of those disagreements was over the collaborative agreement splitting the program into a “Skills and Drills” team and into a traveling team, the latter of which would not be sanctioned by the Boys & Girls Club and therefore would not offer financial support for the team’s participation in tournaments, games or leagues played outside of the club’s own gym.
The agreement would also require members of the Skills and Drills team to become members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside and begin collecting a $55 annual membership fees from those players.
Yasukochi eventually signed the agreement but said he felt he was coerced into doing so. He also said he was told that a revised agreement would be made but a new document was never created.
Yasukochi sent his team to play in Anaheim on Oct. 27. Days later, he was told the team was out of compliance.
“I didn’t know we were out of compliance,” Yasukochi said. “Then I was told we were out of compliance and I still never got anything in writing that said what the noncompliance is or was.”
According to Parks and Recreation Division Manager Mark Olson, the city has been in contact with the program about finding it a new home.
“They have inquired about renting space from us so we are working through the appropriate steps in order to make sure that can take place,” Olson said.