Knowing the rules is an increasingly important--and difficult--reality for administrators at NCAA schools, and Long Beach athletes recently have learned this the hard way.
Senior point guard Tyrone Mays, a starter for the men's basketball team last season, is academically ineligible because Long Beach officials again provided wrong information about NCAA rules, Long Beach Director of Compliance and Student Services Mary Ann Tripodi said Monday.
Tripodi, in her first year as the compliance officer, said Mays is in good academic standing, but he cannot participate in games because officials wrongly advised him about selecting the proper courses in order to remain eligible under NCAA guidelines. Three members of the water polo team also were declared ineligible by the NCAA Eligibility Committee this season after receiving similar advise.
"Right now we're just waiting to see what happens," Coach Seth Greenberg said. "It's not his fault. He only needs six classes to graduate."
Mays, who is 6 feet 1 and averaged 4.2 points last season, will not play in the 49ers' first exhibition game against High-Five America Saturday night at The Gold Mine. Tripodi said he can continue practicing.
Long Beach is assessing the possibility of filing an appeal with the committee. The university unsuccessfully appealed the ineligibility of the water polo players.
Test run: A crowd of approximately 500 watched the men's basketball team in its first public appearance this season Saturday in an intrasquad scrimmage at The Gold Mine.
Guard James Cotton (6-4), the conference's freshman of the year last season, and senior center Joe McNaull (6-10) each scored 18 points to lead the Black team to a 71-65 victory over the Gold.
Just another showdown: Talk with some coaches and players the week of two key volleyball matches against the conference leader, and you'll almost sense the stress.
However, you won't see the women's volleyball team sweat. Well, at least not until game time.
Big West Conference-leading Hawaii enters The Gold Mine at 7:30 tonight for the first of two pivotal matches with the 49ers. The teams also play Wednesday night at the same time.
Hawaii, ranked fifth in the nation by Volleyball Monthly magazine, is 20-2, 13-1 in conference play. The No. 8 49ers (17-3, 12-1), three-time defending conference champions, have three conference matches left after this week and the Rainbow Wahine have two.
The winner gains the inside track at the conference title, and momentum entering the NCAA tournament.
But the 49ers aren't wide-eyed with fear, tension, etc.
That's because when you're the defending national champion, you learn to deal with what's dealt. The 49ers' attitude? Been there; done that.
"This is a big week, but we're not changing anything (for Hawaii)," Coach Brian Gimmillaro said. "We do the same things against everybody."
The Rainbow Wahine hold the conference record for consecutive titles with four (1987-90). Gimmillaro acknowledges this is one of Hawaii's best teams, and he can think of a better scenario than playing back-to-back nights, but he likes the 49ers' chances nonetheless.
"I'd like to have a month of practice (before playing Hawaii)," Gimmillaro said. "It makes it tough on us, but we're good as long as we do what we know."
Pay-back: Although often erratic, the 49ers defeated visiting Santa Barbara on Friday in a conference match, 14-16, 15-11, 15-8, 15-4. The third-place Gauchos won an intense match when the teams met Oct. 1 at Santa Barbara, 11-15, 15-10, 15-12, 6-15, 15-8.
"We had a little lack of motivation at times (Friday), but then we started getting angry at ourselves," said senior defensive specialist Prentice Perkins, who had a career-high five aces. "Then we started playing."
Running high: Andy Sythe, coach of the men's and women's cross-country teams, thought he had an airtight plan for success at the Big West Conference championship meet in Logan, Utah.
The elevation at the course is 4,800 feet, so Sythe instructed the 49ers to take things slow and let the high altitude take effect on their opponents. Sythe figured many runners would struggle in that environment--and that the 49ers would remain strong and finish well.
Seems reasonable. And the execution?
Well, some things are best left on paper.
"My race strategy just didn't work out," Sythe said. "We weren't in the race from the beginning. We were relying on people to come back to us and they never did."
The men finished fifth with a team score of 136. Freshman Pat Bendzick ran the fastest time for the men, covering the five-mile course in 26 minutes 38.4 seconds and finishing 18th.
More disappointing was the women's finish. Sythe believed the team could take third, but it wound up seventh with 160 points. Sophomore Christa Ayuso provided a bright spot, however, covering the 3.1-mile course in 19:11.2. She was 13th.
"Ayuso ran a beautiful race," Sythe said, "especially considering the strategy didn't work out."
Compton College forward Marcus Johnson (6-9) has committed to Long Beach. Johnson averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds for Compton last season. . . . Legends restaurant in Long Beach will induct 49er women's volleyball Coach Brian Gimmillaro into its hall of fame Nov. 9. Gimmillaro has led the 49ers to two national championships. More information: (310) 985-7798. . . . The Brewster's Long Beach State Tip-Off Celebration Dinner will take place Saturday in the Chart Room at Long Beach after the basketball team's exhibition game against High-Five America. Tickets are $35 and tables of eight are $250. The price includes the dinner, game tickets and a tour of The Pyramid. More information: (310) 985-8143.