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O'Connor Figures JC Coaches Got a Raise

June 13, 1986|DAVID MORGAN

If Bob O'Connor had wanted to be an administrator, he would have selected business over education.

"That's where the money is," O'Connor said.

O'Connor, in a surprising twist, is following the money, anyway.

After two years in an unwanted role as athletic director at Pierce College, O'Connor resigned two weeks ago to return to coaching. That, as it turns out, is where the money is again in community college athletics.

An amendment to the faculty contract approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees makes a coaching assignment part of the course load for full-time instructors.

The amendment, which spared six physical education instructors from layoffs scheduled for June 30, also had two side effects.

First, it paved the way for final cutbacks in the district's intercollegiate athletic program. Five coaches will be among seven physical education instructors laid off, and 23 part-time coaches will be fired in accordance with the faculty union's contract.

The other side effect, according to O'Connor: Coaching as part of an instructor's course load will increase the value of the assignment by 300%.

An example:

This year, football coaches in the district received a stipend of about $6,500. If the coach was also a full-time instructor, that stipend came in addition to the base teaching salary.

Under the new district plan, a football coaching assignment becomes equal to about half a full course load, making the job worth about $21,000 of an instructor's base salary.

Coaches still will lose the $6,500 stipend, but in terms of monetary value, a coaching assignment represents a significant increase, according to O'Connor's figures.

Thus, O'Connor said, the district is greatly inflating coaches' salaries.

"I think they know that it is costing them," he said. "I think it's a philosophical thing with some of the district people that PE teachers coach."

O'Connor is still acting as Pierce's athletic director until a replacement is named. He said that would take another two weeks, which won't be soon enough for O'Connor.

"I didn't apply for the job originally," he said. "I was asked by others in the department to take it because they needed someone to market the program and raise money. To help save the program, I did it.

"But I didn't get into education to push papers. I got into it to teach and coach, and that's a lot more fun."

O'Connor will have plenty of fun, then, during the 1986 school year. He will coach both the water polo and golf teams in addition to his course load as a health education instructor.

Originally, he was to replace Jim Fenwick as coach of the Pierce football program. But, citing a tight budget, Pierce President David Wolf eliminated football and men's basketball last month.

O'Connor said he would have preferred to coach football, but that he's equally excited about coaching golf and returning to water polo, a sport he last coached at UCLA in 1957.

"Different sports have different athletes," he said. "But just working with the athletes is where the fun is at."

Add JCs: Less than three months before the start of the new school year, final details of the cutbacks in intercollegiate programs have yet to be worked out, Trade-Tech Athletic Director Courtney Borio said.

Most pressing is the availability of non-PE teachers to coach athletic teams. The practice has been allowed in the past, but legal questions have been raised in light of planned layoffs.

Until that matter is settled, many schools in the district are unable to guarantee which programs they will offer in 1986-1987.

Mission College is a good example. The school plans to offer four of the five sports it fielded this year. But if non-PE teachers are not allowed to coach, Mission will not have coaches for its teams. The coaches of those teams this year were part-timers who will be fired June 30.

If, however, non-PE teachers are able to coach, Mission might add men's basketball, Athletic Director Phil Lozano said.

Either way, Lozano expects the quality of the teams to suffer.

"The damage was done a long, long time ago," he said. "It's like starting over again, but more difficult. At least when you are starting up, you can anticipate a starting date. This way, you don't even know if you'll have a program or not."

At Valley College, Athletic Director George Goff said that at least six of the seven athletic teams fielded this year will be offered again in the fall.

Pierce will have nine of its 11 men's sports in the fall, with football and basketball the exceptions. For the women, six of seven sports will be fielded. Women's basketball could be a late addition.

Moorpark and Canyons are not in the L.A. district and face no cutbacks. Both schools will field the same teams in 1986-1987, with Moorpark possibly adding men's tennis.

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