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Watson Questions Dismissal

March 13, 1997|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ

The day after, Virgil Watson was picking up the pieces and contemplating his next move.

"I have to talk to my attorney and see what I can do," Watson said Wednesday.

What Watson wants to do is regain what he believes was wrongfully taken from him: His job.

In a sometimes heated meeting of the Ventura Community College District trustees, Watson was ousted Tuesday as Ventura College physical education instructor and men's basketball coach.

A main reason given for not renewing Watson's contract was poor performance as a teacher. His ability to coach, supported by a state championship last season, was not questioned.

What does Watson teach? Weight training and, you guessed it, basketball.

"Their criticism of my classroom performance, nobody came to me to tell me I needed to improve," Watson said. "I believe my teaching was in the norm for this campus . . . Some of the things they said at that meeting were unsubstantiated, some were outright lies. They put on a very big grandstand act."

Watson, who taught at Ventura on an interim basis last school year and was hired full-time this school term, remained baffled by the events.

Perhaps the most provocative allegation made at the meeting was that Watson, 39, last summer had sex with a 41-year-old Ventura College student. Watson maintains that his relationship with the woman was consensual.

"I couldn't speak to what anybody's agenda was," Watson said. "There are a lot of people who have speculated what the motives behind this could be. They've run the gamut."

For the next few days, however, Watson will try to get away from the controversy and take in the state championships today through Saturday in San Jose. The festivities include annual meetings of California junior college coaches.

Perhaps Watson will return with a job offer.

*

One of the functions Watson plans to attend in San Jose is this morning's induction of former Ventura men's Coach Phil Mathews into the California Community College Basketball Coaches Assn. Hall of Fame.

Mathews, now coach at the University of San Francisco, had a 298-56 record in 10 seasons at Ventura and his teams won two state titles. Watson was Mathews' top assistant from 1990-94.

*

Having the men's and women's basketball teams from the same school competing at the state championships in the same year happens occasionally. Ventura did it last year, winning titles in both divisions. But having a father-daughter combination representing different schools could be a first.

That's what Newton Chelette, men's coach at Antelope Valley, and daughter Amanda, a freshman guard on the Canyons women's team, are doing this weekend.

In today's quarterfinals, the Antelope Valley men (30-4) face Diablo Valley (31-5) at 2 p.m. at San Jose State and the Canyons women (31-4) meet Butte (30-4) at 3 p.m. at De Anza College in Cupertino.

The women's tournament shifts to San Jose State for semifinals Friday and the final Saturday, so the Chelettes can root for each other's teams.

"It's been a very, very special [season]," Newton Chelette said.

*

He was virtually unknown when the season started, but Japanese diver Motoki Wakabayashi is quickly making a name for himself.

Wakabayashi approached Fred Shaw and Mike Garibaldi, swimming co-coaches at Pierce, and said he wanted to dive for the Brahmas.

"He just walked in and said, 'Here I am,' " Shaw said. "He said he was No. 4 in Japan but we are not sure what that really means. We don't know if that's No. 4 in a region or in an age group or what."

Shaw said the language barrier makes it somewhat difficult to communicate with Wakabayashi, but the diver's message on the one- and three-meter boards has been clear.

"He's undefeated in three dual meets, but that's tentative because we haven't met any teams with real good divers," Shaw said. "We are going to the Cuesta invitational [Friday and Saturday], so we'll see how he stacks up. He's one of the better divers I've seen."

*

Foreign athletes such as Wakabayashi regularly compete in collegiate sports in the U.S.

But the Pepperdine women's tennis team might have outdone everyone.

Eight of the nine players on Coach Gualberto Escudero's roster are from foreign countries: Karoline Borgersen (Norway), Zsofia Csapo (Hungary), Kathrin Denn (Germany), Angela Lawrence (Australia), Isabela Petrov (Mexico), Nadine Rastetter (Germany), Annabel Rognon (France) and Anna Svedenkhov (Sweden).

The only U.S.-born player on the team is Tiffany Bartolacci, from Tampa, Fla.

Escudero, in his 20th season with the Waves, was born in Bolivia.

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