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THE PREPS / ERIC SHEPARD

City's Harkness Plans to Retire in October

April 13, 1993|ERIC SHEPARD

Hal Harkness, City Section athletic commissioner for the last seven years, announced Monday that he will step down in October.

Harkness, 54, said he is no longer comfortable with the way business is run in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

"The size and nature of this school district and the way business is done is troublesome at times," he said. "When you're no longer comfortable with the way decisions are made and your role, I feel it's time to move on."

He would not elaborate, but the former college and high school track and cross-country coach said he plans to pursue business athletic endeavors.

Harkness said he will officially submit his resignation in July and step down on Oct. 1.

District officials have requested permission from interim Supt. Sid Thompson to assemble a search committee and begin the process of finding a replacement.

Lee Joseph, a City athletic administrator from 1973-92 and now the principal at View Park Continuation High, has expressed interest in the job.

"Lee Joseph would probably be a candidate because of his experience with City athletics," said Dick Browning, district administrator who oversees athletics. "But I am certain we will get a number of inquiries."

Browning said he hopes a replacement will be chosen when school begins in the fall so the new commissioner can spend some time with Harkness.

Harkness has had a difficult tenure, dealing with a teachers' strike in 1989, the switch to a year-round calendar and a series of budget cuts. Last summer, his two assistants, Joseph and Pat Harvey, were reassigned, leaving him and two secretaries to manage the district's 50 high schools.

But Harkness said he did not feel overwhelmed.

"There are just a lot of limitations to what I do in this job, and after a while you don't want to put up with them," he said.

The City is one of 10 state sections governed by the California Interscholastic Federation.

The spring signing period begins Wednesday, but basketball players Charles O'Bannon and Avondre Jones of Artesia probably will not announce their college choices right away.

The two highly recruited players said last week that they probably will announce their decisions after Sunday, when they will play in an all-star game in Detroit.

O'Bannon, a 6-foot-6 forward, is considering Kentucky, UCLA, USC and Michigan. Jones, a 6-11 center, is considering Michigan, USC, UCLA and Arizona. He said he might make a final visit to either Louisiana State or Iowa.

Rick Pitino, Kentucky's coach, will be the featured speaker at Artesia's basketball banquet on April 22. O'Bannon might wait to make a decision until after then.

The spring signing period lasts one month.

The Upper Deck Baseball Classic ended last Thursday with Simi Valley defeating Irvine for the championship, 7-6, in nine innings.

But the 16-team tournament did more than crown a champion: It proved that high school baseball is as popular as ever.

The title game was played before an overflow crowd of 2,000 at Cal State Fullerton. Several games were played before crowds of more than 1,000. An estimated 70 major league scouts attended one game, during which highly regarded shortstop Alex Rodriguez of Miami Westminster Christian was playing. Iran Novick, tournament director, said he received more than 70 applications for next year's event.

The tournament also proved that Simi Valley (14-1) is one of the best teams in the nation. The Pioneers began the tournament rated No. 2 by Baseball America and USA Today, behind Westminster Christian. But Westminster lost to Irvine in the semifinals.

"We haven't really been tested all season," Coach Mike Scyphers of Simi Valley said after the victory over Irvine. "We needed that."

The youngest winner at Saturday's Arcadia Track Invitational was Michael Granville, a freshman at Bell Gardens.

Granville, 15, shocked the crowd of 8,000 by winning the 800-meter run in 1:51.16, breaking the national freshman record of 1:53.06 set by Steve Adderley of Delray Beach, Fla., in 1987.

Fidel Elizarrez, Bell Gardens coach, said Granville had run the 800 only twice this season, with his best time 2:00.0 in a dual meet March 29.

"Michael has all the tools to run great times, he just needs the competition to make him do it." Elizarrez said. "He got the right competition at Arcadia."

Granville has run several events this season, concentrating on the 100, 200 and 400. Elizarrez said he can also run the mile and two mile.

Prep Notes

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