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Loan Allows Northridge to Restart Dropped Sports

Administration: School receives $586,000 to reinstate men's baseball, volleyball, soccer and swimming for a year.

August 05, 1997|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Four prominent men's sports are back at Cal State Northridge, but on borrowed time.

The university received a $586,000 loan Monday, enabling it to reinstate baseball, volleyball, soccer and swimming, programs that were cut June 11 to meet budget and gender-equity requirements.

The loss of the sports sparked a heated controversy, some critics calling for the ouster of Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson.

The loan from the Northridge Corporation, an auxiliary of the university, matches funds that last month were written into an amendment to the state budget by state Sen. Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley).

But the budget has stalled in the Legislature, making it difficult for coaches to prepare for the fall term. The loan will enable players to get their scholarship money and to register along with other students.

"We are going to try to get done in a few days something that takes two years," Northridge baseball Coach Mike Batesole said. "It's an exciting challenge."

Batesole has known for a month that his program probably would be revived for a year, but he was unable to sign players to letters of intent until scholarship money was available.

Now, he has money, but the NCAA does not allow players to sign letters of intent after Aug. 1. Batesole won't know for sure who is playing until classes begin Aug. 22.

Twenty players have said they would attend Northridge, but only four are returning from the team that went 42-20-1 last season as an independent: senior infielders Chris MacMillan and Mike McNeely, sophomore catcher Jeremy Sickles and sophomore first baseman Adrian Mendoza.

The other players include transfers from Division I and junior college programs and incoming freshmen.

"All these guys have a little 'story' to them," Batesole said. "The most important thing when I recruit kids is their character, and the scariest thing with these guys is that I don't have time to evaluate that correctly."

The three other sports were not affected as strongly.

Northridge has lost only one volleyball starter, setter Dan Fisher, who accepted a scholarship to Pacific.

Soccer and swimming raised enough money from private sources to field teams this year, although Athletic Director Paul Bubb said those programs also will receive a share of the $586,000.

Should the funds earmarked for Northridge not be included in the state budget signed by Gov. Pete Wilson, the athletic department must pay back the loan, interest-free, in three yearly installments beginning July, 1998.

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