SIMI VALLEY — Mike Scyphers, who coached the Simi Valley High baseball program into national prominence but has experienced a tumultuous past 12 months, said Wednesday that he has been forced to resign, effective at the end of the season.
"It was the decision of the school administration and the district administration that they no longer want me to be the baseball coach at Simi Valley High," Scyphers said. "They asked me to tender my resignation in early March, before the season started. I guess it was OK for me to coach this season, but not next season."
Simi Valley High principal Kathryn Scroggin could not be reached for comment.
Scyphers, 42, was the subject of police and district investigations into alleged financial and disciplinary improprieties last spring. He was suspended as coach for the final seven games of the season, but was later cleared by police and reinstated as coach.
In February, new charges were levied against Scyphers, this time for allegedly exerting influence on a player to transfer to Simi Valley. For that violation, the Southern Section placed the Simi Valley baseball program on indefinite probation.
Scroggin's discipline of Scyphers included a six-game suspension and his resignation, Scyphers said.
"My principal had typed up my letter of my resignation," Scyphers sad. "I didn't even get to write my own letter. She put it in front of me. It was like, 'Sign it or we'll replace you.'
"Probably the right thing to do would have been to resign (in March), but the right thing for me to do for the kids was to see this season through."
Scyphers has had a standing offer to take over the baseball program at Sandpoint (Ida.) High, where former college teammate Jack Dyck is the athletic director. He said he will try to schedule a trip to Sandpoint with his family this summer, but he is not sure if he wants to coach next season.
"I'm going to take a year off, or two, or three," Scyphers said. "I've come to grips with not coaching high school baseball. Even if all this stuff hadn't happened, I knew I didn't have much time left. My son is 9 now. I want to coach him. I want to spend time with my daughters (ages 13 and 11). My time, there isn't much of it to spread around."
If Scyphers does not take the job in Idaho, he will continue to teach physical education and driver's education at Simi Valley, he said.
Scyphers told his players about the resignation during the team's meeting after Wednesday's 9-2 loss to Royal. He instructed the players not to comment on the resignation.
The loss dropped Simi Valley into a three-way tie for first place in the Marmonte League with one game to go. The Pioneers have won eight league championships under Scyphers, not including a 1992 title they won on the field but had to forfeit because of the use of an ineligible player.
Scyphers led the team to the No. 1 ranking in the nation in 1986 and 1993.
But Scyphers' tenure at Simi Valley became somewhat tenuous starting May 3, 1994, when he was suspended as coach pending police and district investigations.
Among the matters investigated was Scyphers' use of "the block," a team disciplinary practice in which players bid small amounts of money to paddle teammates who violated team rules. The practice, which Scyphers had employed with player consent since 1980, violated the state education code. One of the stipulations of his rehiring last summer was that he stop using "the block."
Scyphers also admitted to improper handling of $2,000 donated by adult baseball groups to the Simi Valley program for use of the school's baseball field. Although he did not keep any of the money, it did not go through the proper channels.
Scyphers used a $700 cashier's check from a baseball group to pay his assistant coaches, a Southern Section violation.
The final straw for Scyphers came this year, when Ray Rainer accused the coach of phoning his son, Mike Rainer, and persuading him to enroll and play baseball at Simi Valley instead of Royal.
"I guess using a practice we've used for 16 years, trying to help out my assistant coaches and making a phone call are just cause for them to relieve me of my duties," Scyphers said. "It's absurd. In my opinion those are not major violations."