West Los Angeles College is dropping football and baseball because of financial problems in the Los Angeles Community College District, Jim Raack, WLAC athletic director, announced this week after a meeting with Dr. Linda Thor, college president.
Dropping the sports is the most recent action taken by the WLAC athletic department in response to a series of layoffs of teachers and coaches, followed by the rescission of some layoffs and reassignment of coaches and instructors.
Last winter four WLAC coaches were among more than 140 instructors who received layoff notices from the district, but district trustees later reduced the number of layoffs to 48, including 13 in physical education.
At WLAC, the coaches who originally received dismissal notices and were then reassigned to classroom teaching duties were Jim Babcock, head football coach; Steve Butler, an assistant to Babcock, and Art Harris, head baseball coach. Alma Marshall, WLAC women's volleyball coach, who has less seniority than the other three, was the fourth coach put on notice and was later one of the 13 whose layoffs were reaffirmed by trustees.
Raack said that Charles Sands, the veteran WLAC basketball coach, and Virginia Waldron, who coaches women's tennis, will continue to coach their sports and that Babcock, Butler and Harris are expected to coach other sports.
The WLAC athletic director said Babcock has agreed to coach a new program in co-educational golf, Butler will take over women's volleyball unless Marshall eventually is retained by the district and Harris is deciding whether he wants to coach men's tennis or co-educational cross country, sports that were phased out but could be reinstituted. Only the sport that Harris decides on will be offered, Raack said.
"The reason why we are dropping football and baseball is that the coaches of those sports will now be reassigned to inside classroom teaching responsibilities," Raack said. "Because they feel they need to prepare for classes and teach their students, they feel they cannot do both."
He said that he and Thor agree that the college does not "want to offer those (baseball and football) coaching jobs to anyone who is not a full-time employee of the school.
"Because of the intensity of the programs, I feel that such coaches must be on campus full time to deal with the athletes," Raack said.
Before he started the WLAC baseball program in 1976, Harris coached strong teams for years at Venice High School, and his college teams were also usually winners.
In 1981, Babcock took over the football program, which had been faltering both economically and on the field, and brought it back to respectability with his coaching and fund-raising skills. His former assistant, Butler, won three UCLA letters as an offensive lineman from 1963 through 1965.