The president of a top Catholic prep academy whose football program faced accusations of hazing in a 2020 lawsuit has resigned.
NBC News reports Rev.. Walter E. Jenkins stepped down from his position at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, but a spokesperson from the school claims his resignation has nothing to do with allegations made against the school’s top-ranked football team and making a connection would be “unfair.”
“There is no connection between the litigation and his departure from the school and to make such a connection is deeply unfair to Father Jenkins who served Mater Dei well during his tenure,” communications director Allison Bergeron said in the email sent to NBC News on Saturday (January 1).
Erin Barisano, the superintendent for Orange County diocese schools, said Jenkins is returning to his religious order in South Bend, Indiana as part of a new assignment and will leave Mater Dei next week in a letter to parents, students and supporters.
The Orange County Register reported on Saturday that Jenkins’ resignation also comes amid tension with longtime football coach Bruce Rollinson, who has turned Mater Dei Football into a championship powerhouse since joining the program in 1989.
Jenkins was named president in February 2021 and vowed to hire a Sacramento law firm to investigate allegations of hazing agains the football team as one of his last acts in the position.
“Father’s departure will not affect the progress of the independent investigation which will commence when school resumes next week,” Bergeron said via NBC News. “The Diocese of Orange and Mater Dei remain committed to student safety and academic excellence.”
Barisano confirmed a new Mater Dei president was set to be named “very shortly.”