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Layoffs Could Decimate College Athletics : West Los Angeles Campus May Be Left With Just Tennis, Basketball

February 27, 1986|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

If layoffs of more than 140 teachers in the financially beleaguered Los Angeles Community College District go through as scheduled, West Los Angeles College would be left with two sports: men's basketball and women's tennis, according to Jim Raack, college athletic director.

This is the first time the district has sent dismissal notices, said Courtney Borio, athletic director at Los Angeles Trade Tech.

Among the instructors at West Los Angeles College who have received notices are baseball Coach Art Harris, football Coach Jim Babcock, women's volleyball Coach Alma Marshall and Steve Butler, an assistant football coach. Remaining would be Charles Sands, the men's basketball coach, and Virginia Waldron, women's tennis coach, both of whom have more seniority than the others.

Raack said he isn't sure what he will be doing if his four coaches are fired. "There wouldn't be an athletic director," he said. "You have to have four sports to have an athletic director, it's a contract rule" in the American Federation of Teachers' pact with the district.

39 Get Notices

Harris, Babcock, Marshall and Butler are among 39 coaches and physical education teachers throughout the district who have received layoff notices. If they go, Borio said, it would have a drastic impact on district sports programs.

Borio is heading an effort by district coaches and physical education instructors to save the 39 positions. He said he expects to meet with district administrators next week to present proposals that would save all the jobs involved in the athletic departments at the nine community colleges in the district.

He said his subcommittee--composed of district athletic directors, coaches and faculty members--"has some ideas, but they are tentative ideas. We're going to try to firm them up this week."

Borio said the group is trying to schedule a meeting for the end of next week with Virginia Mulrooney, district vice chancellor for personnel services, and other district administrators. Mulrooney did not return telephone calls from The Times.

The layoff notices and other major organizational changes are the result of a district-wide 33% plunge in enrollment from a peak of 139,168 students in 1982 to 93,026 now. In that same period, enrollment at West Los Angeles College went from about 14,600 to 8,000, a decline of 44%.

Borio said the loss of the 39 coach-instructors would leave district colleges with 8 women's sports out of the current 37 and 19 of 47 men's sports.

He said that would leave Southwest College with no men's or women's sports; East Los Angeles College with no women's program; Los Angeles City College with no women's program and two men's sports; Los Angeles Trade Tech with men's and women's tennis; Harbor with about eight programs split between men and women; four men's and two women's sports at Valley College; four men's and one women's sports at Pierce, and Mission College with only golf.

Proposals to bring back ex-coaches--who have become full-time physical education instructors or administrators--as replacements for coaches who have received layoff notices, would not work under current contracts, Borio and Raack said. "Our contract says it is a voluntary situation," Borio said.

Borio said that the present contract "excludes physical education guys from going back" (to coaching) unless they volunteer to do so. "What we're trying to push for is improvement in the conditions so that we can voluntarily bring some of those people back.

"But our No. 1 priority is to save all of the jobs."

The Trade Tech athletic director said athletics is "a particularly valuable function for this district--they generate a lot of revenue" because of state funds paid to the district according to an average-daily-attendance formula.

Raack said he has of heard proposals to regionalize certain sports at one college. Under such a proposal, he said, students from West Los Angeles College, Southwest and Harbor who wanted to play football could attend one of the three colleges that had a football team during for the fall semester. The same switch would take place for baseball or basketball.

Proposals to regionalize college courses other than sports have circulated informally in the district from time to time but Borio said such plans have never been formally proposed.

Wouldn't Work

But Raack and Borio said they do not believe regionalizing sports would work.

Raack said regionalization was "brought up two or three years ago as a way of saving money. Who's going to administer the program? If it was me, I would have to know what's going on at Southwest and Harbor. That's stupid."

He said that some district board members believe that "if you don't have athletics, those (student-athletes) will still come to our school--(but) they won't. If you didn't offer an art class on campus, why would an art student come to your school?"

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