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Additional Charges at Coach : Cross-country: Former Cal State L.A. runners say Greg Ryan arranged for them to get unearned grades.

August 18, 1995|GREG SANDOVAL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two former Cal State L.A. cross-country runners have told the school they received credit for physical education courses they never attended, The Times has learned.

The athletes were being questioned in conjunction with a school investigation into women's cross-country Coach Greg Ryan. Ryan has been accused by former athletes of loaning athletes money, reneging on promises of full athletic scholarships and telling some runners to sign per-diem sheets for meets in which they did not participate.

Former team members Maria Lopez and Gracie Padilla allege that Ryan arranged for some members of his team to receive unearned grades from other coaches in the athletic department, in order to keep them eligible to compete.

"Ryan said that the [physical education] classes would help us stay eligible," Lopez said she told school officials. "He would tell us we weren't good enough students to take the classes we wanted. He would enroll us into these P.E. classes and say, 'You don't have to bother showing up.' "

Ryan, who is the athletic department's academic adviser as well as being the women's track and cross-country coach, declined comment.

The Times has also learned that Alba Lima, who attended Cal State L.A. during 1993-94, may have violated NCAA rules by competing for a junior college while a member of the Golden Eagle track team.

According to Lima, she scored less than the minimum 700 on the Scholastic Assessment Test as a high school senior and was academically ineligible to compete for Cal State L.A. or anyone else as a freshman.

Records show, however, that Lima ran for Trade Tech in May 1994 and was the Southern California Athletic Conference champion in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters.

According to the NCAA, it is against the rules for academically ineligible athletes to represent any outside teams their freshman year, according to Steve Mallonee, director of legislative services for the NCAA.

"They [nonqualifiers] aren't allowed to compete or practice or even take part in team meetings," Mallonee said. "The rule is in place to give athletes who have struggled academically a year to concentrate on their studies."

Lima told The Times that she practiced with the Cal State L.A. team in the spring of 1994, when she was also a member of the Trade Tech team.

Lopez and Padilla, along with former Cal State L.A. runner Jeri Young, filed complaints with the school in May. The school announced an investigation was under way in early June.

Cal State L.A. officials have said that they plan to release a statement regarding their investigation in early September.

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