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Scramble Begins to Find Place to Display Talents

Matador coaches and athletes are busy trying to land on their feet after being undercut.


NORTHRIDGE — John Price woke up Thursday morning, grabbed his newspaper and still couldn't believe what he was reading.

"It was like I was reading about another program," Price said on his second day as Northridge's former men's volleyball coach. "I think I'm still in denial. I haven't dealt with it yet."

The Day After didn't bring much comfort to the members of Cal State Northridge's four men's athletic programs that were eliminated Wednesday because of budget and gender-equity concerns.

Of some consolation for Price, he learned that he will be granted another year at the school, teaching in the physical education department. Soccer Coach Marwan Ass'ad also had his contract extended through December.

Baseball Coach Mike Batesole is safe because of two years remaining on a three-year contract and swimming Coach Barry Schreifels will dedicate his time to the women's team.

Price said the extra year is comforting because it gives him time to decide on a career path. He doesn't believe he will be able to coach men's volleyball because most colleges nationwide do not play the sport.

Price, who coached Northridge women's volleyball for one season, said he isn't optimistic about getting a job in that sport either.

"Coaching women's volleyball wouldn't be a big adjustment from a technical standpoint," he said, "but it is hard for white males to get an interview [to coach a women's team]. [Schools] prefer to hire women to coach women, and if it is a male, they want a minority."

Price said outside hitter Chad Strickland is getting the most interest from other colleges, including Hawaii and Long Beach State, but so far there have been no scholarship offers.

He also said several players are willing to stay at Northridge and play club volleyball.

The soccer team also has the option of playing as a club this year--and Ass'ad said most of his players are willing to do that--but he clings to the belief that the team will be revived by Blenda J. Wilson, the university president.

"I still have hope because any reasonable man or woman will look at the numbers and say, 'Let them play,' " he said. "I want to sit with the president for 10 minutes and hear their reasons for not letting us play. I'm going to ask to have a meeting early next week."

Batesole is a finalist for the opening at Iowa, which finished last in the Big 10 Conference this season. Batesole, 33, interviewed for the position Wednesday.

Other finalists are Scott Broghamer, an Iowa assistant of 11 years; Arizona State assistant Doug Schreiber and Pitt Coach Mark Jackson, whose winning percentage of .707 is ranked fifth among Division I coaches with at least five years of experience.

A darkhorse candidate is Dave Schrage, coach at Northern Iowa. Schrage was hired by Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby when Bowlsby was athletic director at Northern Iowa in the 1980s.

Tim Montez, Northridge pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, interviewed Thursday for an opening as an assistant at Arkansas. Montez, previously an assistant at UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine, also was contacted this week by Santa Clara and Washington State.

Schreifels said none of his five returning swimmers have had serious contacts with other programs because there aren't many men's swimming teams left in California.

"Men's swimming is being forced out, which is sad, because there are more little boys than little girls swimming," he said. "Open the opportunities for women, fine, but don't cut them for men."

Times staff writers Steve Henson and Tris Wykes contributed to this story.

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