Compton College Stuck in 'Big League' 2 Years

February 13, 1986|PAUL McLEOD | Times Staff Writer

Compton College officials, unhappy with a state athletic board's refusal to allow it to leave the South Coast Conference, say they will seek a transfer again when the state reopens releaguing discussions in two years.

The college had hoped to take advantage of a statewide realignment of leagues, which begins this fall, to join the new Southern California Athletic Conference. Compton officials felt the move would provide balanced competition in all sports, including football, against colleges with similar enrollments.

In the current South Coast Conference, Compton competes against schools that have as much as seven times its 4,200-student enrollment. But Compton, in the process of reorganizing its athletic department, failed to meet a deadline for requesting changes and state athletic officials refused to grant the college a waiver on the deadline.

Request Turned Down

The state plan allowed all of the more than 100 California community college athletic programs to realign into conferences of their choice. But the Southern Appeals Board of the state Committee on Athletics last month denied the Tartars' request for a change. A school appeal to the full committee was turned down when that body decided not to review decisions of the appeals board.

As a protest, Athletic Director Art Perkins said he considered dropping the Tartar football program, but changed his mind after talking it over with college President Dr. Edison O. Jackson. Instead, college officials agree, the school must upgrade its athletic facilities and beef up recruiting if it is to successfully compete over the next two seasons.

"(The denial) means that we'll have to really roll up our sleeves and do a good job of recruiting in our own district," said Compton's dean of student affairs, Douglas Robinson, who also serves as the campus athletic administrator.

Both Robinson and Perkins had hoped to persuade the appeals board to make Compton an exception to the deadline due to its recent changes in administrative personnel. Perkins and Jackson assumed duties last July, a month after the deadline for league-change applications had passed.

'Integrity of System' Cited

While the appeals board said it sympathized with Compton's plight, it denied the request because, according to Chairman Jim Raack of West Los Angeles College, it would "undermine the integrity of the system." The board also denied a similar request from Allan Hancock College.

Compton has been a member of the current nine-team South Coast Conference in all sports but football since 1983, but has not fared well in the league. Compton College is considerably smaller than current South Coast Conference members--Cypress (16,000), Golden West (20,000), Fullerton (22,000), Rancho Santiago (25,000), Cerritos (25,000), Orange Coast (25,000), Saddleback (27,000) and Mt. San Antonio (28,000).

Under the realignment that will take effect this fall, Cypress, Saddleback and Rancho Santiago (formerly Santa Ana College) will be replaced in the South Coast Conference by El Camino (24,000), Pasadena (25,000) and the state's largest school, Long Beach City College (31,000).

"Nobody (at the COA meeting) mentioned the effect this decision would have on the student athletes, the kids, at Compton," Perkins said. ". . . In our community we feel success for student athletes is important. We feel our students have not done well in this conference."

Concern Over Football

Perkins, who doubles as the school's football coach, said he is concerned that that sport will suffer the most in the new SCC. As a member of the Western State Conference for football only in 1985, Compton finished in a three-way tie for second place, but had an overall record of 4-6. In 1983 Compton competed with the current SCC members in a football league and did not win a league game.

"We felt we had a pretty decent football team (in 1983) and didn't win a game," Perkins said. "In the last game of the year we had 35 athletes, barely enough to field a team. Those schools have 100 to 150 come out for the team. It's ridiculous to think that we can compete with them."

Perkins thought he had unanimous support of administrators from both the SCC and new Southern California Athletic Conference before he left for the Committee on Athletics meeting. But somewhere down the line, he says, that support disappeared. He accuses football coaches in the SCC of spearheading the counterattack.

"I think that, perhaps, they (SCC members) politicked when it went to the COA," he said. "They realized that they had made a mistake (in initially backing Compton) and said, hey, we can't stick by this."

Perkins indicated that the school's recent athletic reputation as a pushover makes it appear like an easy win on the football schedule.

Scheduling Scramble

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