Former Burbank Burroughs High School Boys Basketball Coach Charged With Theft

Burroughs coach Austin Pope was fired on Dec. 1 after less than a year in the position.
Former Burroughs High School basketball coach Austin Pope has been charged with theft following his firing on Dec. 1.
Former Burroughs High School basketball coach Austin Pope has been charged with theft following his firing on Dec. 1. / Tarek Fattal, SBLive Sports

Former Burbank John Burroughs high school boys basketball coach, Austin Pope, has been charged with theft in connection with his official capacity, according to a press release from the Burbank Police Department.

“In December of 2023, the Burbank Police Department was contacted by the Burbank Unified School District about possible theft of funds by Mr. Austin Pope. Mr. Pope was employed by the district but has since been terminated,” the release reads. “The months-long police investigation included obtaining witness and victim statements and the review of financial records. The investigation has revealed that Mr. Pope misappropriated funds he was entrusted with in his official capacity as a coach. The case was reviewed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, who referred it to the Burbank City Attorney’s Office.

“The Burbank City Attorney’s Office has since reviewed the case and filed one count of Theft by False Pretenses Exceeding $950, in violation of California Penal Code Section 532(a), against Mr. Pope.”

Pope is due to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 28 for arraignment.

Pope, a former standout basketball player himself at Burbank High from 2009–13, was hired to be Burroughs’s varsity coach in May 2023.

In his debut season as a head coach this past winter, he led Burroughs to a 6–1 start before being officially released from the position on Dec. 1.

A statement from Burbank Unified School District Supt. John Paramo was sent to basketball families that day.

“Mr. Pope has been permanently released from his coaching duties at John Burroughs High School,” Paramo’s statement read. “I am disappointed that our multiple efforts to hold a productive meeting with Mr. Pope did not occur over the past several days. While I know many desire to know the specific details of the allegations that led to this decision, I am sorry to repeat that I am limited in what I can share, as Mr. Pope has legal privacy rights. I understand how unsatisfying it is to not receive these answers, but given the seriousness of the allegations and the on-going investigation I ask you to respect these legal limitations.”

There was a documentary-style video with the caption “The Firing: The Call that Exposed Burroughs & Fired Up its Players, Parents & Community” released Dec. 2 on Instagram (VIDEO) that shows Pope coaching his final game. 

After losing to Harvard-Westlake, Pope addresses the team in the locker room after the game and tells the players he’s “been let go from the Burroughs program.”

The decision created an uproar within the program. Players and parents began to protest in efforts to get Pope reinstated. During that time, Burroughs players refused to play a game against Village Christian, resulting in a forfeit loss.

Eventually, Malique Johnson took over as interim coach and the Bears finished the season 15–14 overall.

SI Staff