Jon Newton, who had the SBCC men’s volleyball team off to its best start in several years, has stepped down as head coach after four seasons.

The Vaqueros were ranked No. 4 in the state with an 8-2 record and on an eight-game winning streak when the season was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Unfortunately, it comes down to money,” said Newton, a former standout at San Marcos High and SBCC. “My family is here in Santa Barbara and it’s where I’d like to continue living which isn’t possible based on my salary at SBCC. I don’t have another job lined up but I’ll be looking for something outside of coaching.”

Newton becomes the third coaching loss at SBCC during the week. Men’s and women’s golf coach Chuck Melendez and men’s basketball coach Morris Hodges announced they were retiring after 31- and 30-year careers, respectively.

“We’re sad to see Jon resign but I fully understand and support his decision,” said Athletic Diector Rocco Constantino. “Jon was one of the best coaches we had, and it’s tough to see him go. He built his team into one of the top men’s volleyball programs in the state in just four years while also leading his men to the CCCAA Scholar Team Award. He was one of our best coaches as far as taking care of departmental responsibilities while also encouraging his team to participate in community events.

“Jon was as well-rounded a coach as we had. He had a grand vision for volleyball at SBCC and knowing him, he would have succeeded with it if he had the chance. I wish nothing but the best for Jon and will always appreciate his support and what he did for our students at SBCC.”

Newton’s Vaqueros upset No. 1 Orange Coast and No. 2 El Camino this year.

“I truly believe this group had a shot of winning a state title,” he said. ‘We had proven how good we were with wins against OCC, Irvine Valley and El Camino during the short season. It was the first program win versus El Camino in seven years, the first time I’d beaten IVC in my career and the first time SBCC has beaten OCC in I don’t know how long.”

The Vaqueros were scheduled toplay No. 1-ranked Long Beach when the season was scrapped by the pandemic.

“I was looking forward to the Long Beach match as they were a proven number 1 in the state. It would have been a championship type game if it was played before the lockdown started.”

A former All-Channel League player at San Marcos, Newton played a year at SBCC, then transferred to Ohio State and played his last three years (2012-14), earning multiple academic honors.  He returned to Santa Barbara was named  head coach at San Marcos prior to taking over the Vaquero program in 2016-17.

Newton is looking forward to his next chapter, even if he’s unsure where that will take him.

“It’s tough to say what my plans are for the future,” he stated. “It’s uncertain times we are living in right now. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave SBCC but it was a decision I had to make with the best intentions for myself. I’m looking forward to what this new chapter of my life has in store. I want to say thank you to SBCC and everyone there for giving me an amazing experience I’ll never forget.”

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.