Vintage High School head football coach Kyle Hofmann resigned Wednesday afternoon amid an investigation that he may have provided his players with an exercise supplement in violation of interscholastic rules.
The Napa Valley Unified School District released a brief statement Wednesday afternoon saying Hofmann had “voluntarily stepped down from his coaching position effective immediately.” His resignation as a teacher of math and physical education will take effect in June.
“We are currently investigating reports from students that he may have provided over-the-counter muscle-building supplements to some members of the football team,” said Mark Morrison, NVUSD’s executive director of secondary education.
The supplement Hofmann allegedly gave some players was creatine, according to Morrison.
Creatine is an organic substance often used by weight-lifters to help build muscle mass. It is prohibited under California Interscholastic Federation rules that state: “An athletic director, sports coach, school official or employee or booster club/support group member may provide only non-muscle-building nutritional supplements to a student-athlete at any time for the purpose of providing additional calories and electrolytes.”
Morrison said in an interview that the district had talked to the Napa Police Department, which was now involved. “We have contacted Napa police, and they are investigating,” he said.
“The Napa Police Department was made aware of the allegations [Wednesday] and assigned the matter to the Napa Special Investigations Bureau (NSIB),” said Napa Police Lieutenant Gary Pitkin of the NSIB. “NSIB is investigating the matter to determine whether any criminal acts occurred.”
Calls to Hofmann on Wednesday seeking comment were not returned.
Morrison declined to say if the district or Vintage High had received complaints regarding the distribution of supplements to players. Calls to Principal Mike Pearson and Athletic Director Cam Neal on Wednesday were not returned.
“At this point, it’s an ongoing investigation, and I don’t want to trip that investigation up,” Morrison said.
Vintage officials have been communicating with some families of players who allegedly received creatine from Hofmann.
“We have been in touch with the parents of students who reportedly received the substance, and we wanted to be sure to notify all parents,” Principal Pearson wrote in a message delivered to Vintage families on Thursday.
In his statement, Morrison said “that we believe student well-being is our greatest priority, so we are taking steps to speak with our coaching staffs and athletes about the importance of healthy habits as well as strict compliance with all California Interscholastic Federation rules and regulations.”
“I want to further stress,” he added, “that as in all cases, any disciplinary action will be guided by facts, the law, and our commitment to ensure our students are safe in all learning environments, including athletic settings.”
In his message to parents, Pearson said that “we intended to have a frank conversation with the students about never accepting a health-impacting substance from anyone other than a parent or their physician.”
The CIF warned in a 2011 newsletter about the risks of using creatine by student athletes.
“Dehydration can be a side effect of athletes who use muscle building supplements such as creatine,” according to a March 2011 edition of The News, published by the CIF.
The University of Maryland Medical Center noted in a report on creatine that the supplement “appears to be generally safe, although when it is taken at high doses there is the potential for serious side effects, such as kidney damage.”
Hofmann spent three years as the head football coach. He failed to turn around a program that has not won a playoff game in 30 years.
Vintage had endured five straight losing seasons, three under Billy Smith and then two under Hofmann’s predecessor, Dave Shipp, who stepped down after the 2012 season. Shipp had success during his previous stint as Vintage’s head coach two decades before.
Hofmann, who had grown up in Napa and idolized the Crushers coached by Shipp from 1989 to 1993, was transplanted to Arizona by his family at age 11.
He played four years of football at the just-opened Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona. After enjoying an 8-2 senior season, the former defensive back graduated from Arizona State University in 2003 with a degree in secondary education and became his alma mater’s freshman football head coach and a varsity assistant.
In 2006, he began a six-year run as special teams coordinator and secondary coach at Centennial High in Peoria, Arizona, which won three straight state titles and lost in two state finals while he was there.
Hofmann was hired as Vintage’s eighth football head coach and, at 31, its youngest. He wanted to make the weight room such a focus of his program that he lifted alongside his players and had them compete against each other in lifting contests.
But in his three seasons combined, the Crushers were just 16-15 overall and 7-8 in the Monticello Empire League. He got them back to the playoffs with a 6-4 regular-season record in 2014, but the Crushers were seeded just 15th and fell at No. 2 Elk Grove, 69-7.
Register sports writer Andy Wilcox contributed to this story.
An earlier version of this story has been corrected to reflect Dave Shipp’s tenure as the Vintage coach.