The Southern Section's executive committee has ruled that Ocean View High School's basketball team cannot participate in the 1985-86 5-A division playoffs and placed the program on probation for two years.
The 16-member committee met last Saturday and informed the Huntington Beach Union High School District office of the decision on Thursday. The Seahawks were also ordered to return the section's 5-A division runner-up trophy received last March.
The committee's actions were based on evidence submitted by the school district office and the high school that disclosed that Ocean View Coach Jim Harris used "undue influence" to retain Lynwood transfers Ricky Butler and Desi Hazely at the school.
Both Butler and Hazely lived with Harris and his family in their El Toro home. The two originally left their parents' homes in the southeast Los Angeles city of Lynwood under the care of guardian Laurant Brown.
When Brown decided to return to Crescenta Valley, the boys remained at Ocean View and subsequently moved in with their coach. They attended Ocean View after receiving waivers from the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. They no longer live with Harris.
Harris was relieved of his coaching duties by Ocean View principal John Myers in March and subsequently was reinstated as the Seahawks' coach two months later after admitting that he was involved in a violation of Southern Section rules.
District officials forced Ocean View to forfeit its Sunset League title and 24 victories after Butler and Hazely were ruled ineligible. The status of the players remains clouded after the committee announced it would conduct an eligibility review of them after school begins.
"I haven't seen the letter, and I don't know what it all means," Harris said. "John Myers called me this morning and said he wanted to meet on Tuesday. I have a lot of questions, and I'll have more to say after I meet with John."
The probation stipulates that administrative censures against the school and Harris will be imposed during the two seasons. The district must report to the committee at the end of the probation period.
"I don't know if we have any recourse in the matter," Harris said. "Will we be eligible for the league championship? Will our league games count? I don't know. John Myers didn't offer any specifics. I have a feeling things could go haywire again."
Repeated efforts to reach Myers on Thursday night were unsuccessful.
Said Harris: "We had a fairly decent summer and the players finally got their minds off this and back to basketball. Now, the phone has been ringing all day. It's like here we go again."
Harris has been the coach at Ocean View for its seven years of existence, and the Seahawks have advanced to the postseason playoffs all seven seasons. Ocean View was considered the favorite to win the 5-A division title this year with starters Butler, Blaine DeBrouwer and Tony Panzica and sixth-man Hazely returning.