NORTHRIDGE — Coaches John Price and Jeff Campbell thought the men's volleyball program at Cal State Northridge was the only thing severed.
Then came their final severance pay offers Tuesday from university administrator Ronald Kopita, who they say did not offer nearly as much as was promised by Athletic Director Paul Bubb.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday July 11, 1997 Valley Edition Sports Part C Page 13 Zones Desk 2 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
When Cal State Northridge decided last year not to rehire Pete Cassidy as men's basketball coach, it offered him a one-year contract to teach in the school's Kinesiology department and to assist the athletic department in "other duties." It was incorrectly reported in a July 3 story in The Times that Cassidy received severance pay.
According to Campbell, Bubb told him in meetings on June 12 and June 17 that the eight-year assistant coach would receive a one-year contract requiring limited teaching duties or a six-month package without teaching duties.
But Campbell said that Kopita, the university's vice president of student affairs, offered him six months of pay that required mandatory teaching duties in nine classes.
Price, who felt he would receive a one-year package, said he was offered four months of pay and must teach nine classes, mostly kinesiology.
"I really expected and anticipated to be treated better," said Price, who recently finished his 12th season as the Matadors' head coach. "If you look at my record and my loyalty to the school, there are a million different factors that would justify something better.
"I said over and over again, is this the best you're going to do?"
The coaches said they have until noon today to sign the university's settlement offer. Price said late Wednesday night that he needs time to consult with faculty union representatives and will hand-deliver an extension request to Kopita this morning.
Price will also be updating his resume. He was contacted Wednesday by Cal State Bakersfield, a successful Division II women's volleyball program seeking a coach to replace Carl Ferreira, hired last week by Idaho.
"I told them I'd be very interested in talking with them," said Price, who was out of a coaching job on June 11, when Northridge eliminated men's programs in volleyball, baseball, soccer and swimming for budget and gender-equity reasons. Soccer has since been reinstated for one season.
The severance situation may change after a state budget committee approved $586,000 Wednesday to revive the eliminated sports, a movement spearheaded by Sen. Cathie Wright (R--Simi Valley), whose district includes the Northridge campus.
But Price and Campbell aren't looking that far ahead.
Campbell, who has not yet decided whether he would sign the offer that would pay him half of his $30,000 salary, was more than surprised when he found out what Kopita was offering.
"You can call it anything you want--a mistake, a blunder, a lie--but it happened," said Campbell, who bought a house in May and is getting married in September.
"[Bubb might have] felt bad, tried to calm us down a little bit and it worked. Then we find out from Mr. Kopita that [Bubb] can't do that. Basically, the administration lied again."
Bubb is on vacation and not available for comment.
"The only thing I am comfortable saying," Kopita said, "is that the end result is, after careful review of all of the options, the institution felt that what it ultimately offered the coaches in question was something reasonable and acceptable within the parameters within what we were able to work."
Price, whose old contract expired Monday and whose new contract would begin Aug. 20, was stunned with Kopita's statement.
"My reaction to that, after I stop laughing, is that this continues to be mind-boggling," said Price, who declined to give financial details of his contract.
"Does he realize that what they offered me is no pay for seven weeks, then four months pay, then nothing? That's reasonable? That's fair?"
Former Northridge basketball Coach Pete Cassidy, who was fired at the end of the 1995-96 season, received one year of severance pay with limited teaching duties.
A business or corporation is not mandated by law to offer severance packages, but customary offers usually include one or two weeks pay for every year worked.
Price was originally given one day to respond to Tuesday's offer, but was granted a deadline extension from 5 p.m. Wednesday until noon today.