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Transfer of star basketball player Ian Boys has Simi Valley High . . . : Under Scrutiny

September 24, 1997|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SIMI VALLEY — Ian Boys, the latest in a lineup of basketball players to transfer to Simi Valley High, did so, his parents and legal guardian say, because of a financial hardship.

Rival coaches have their doubts. They believe Boys' transfer is yet another calculated move that results in the rich getting richer.

In the past three years, Simi Valley has benefited from an influx of high-profile players from outside the district, boosting an already solid basketball program into a powerhouse.

In 1995, Pero Vasiljevic, a 6-foot-9 exchange student from Australia, stayed with the family of a Simi Valley player and played his senior season for the Pioneers amid suspicions that he was funneled to the school rather than placed randomly. The Southern Section looked into the matter, but didn't discover any wrongdoing.

Last year, the Pioneers' fortunes were boosted by the arrival of Rafael Berumen, a 6-8 sophomore from Pomona, and Branduinn Fullove, a 6-4 freshman from Canoga Park. Berumen's family moved to Simi Valley and Fullove was able to play for the Pioneers by enrolling at Santa Susana, the district's magnet school.

Bobby Fullove, Branduinn's father, recently moved his family to Simi Valley and has assumed legal guardianship of Boys, a 6-7 senior who was the leading scorer and rebounder for Buena High last season.

The chain of events rankled several coaches, who suspect that California Interscholastic Federation rules pertaining to undue influence are being violated in an effort to build Simi Valley into a team capable of contending for Southern Section and state championships.

"I suspect plenty, but that's neither here nor there," Agoura Coach Bill Sanchez said. "But it stinks to high heaven, I know that."

Said Channel Islands Coach Gary Abraham: "Simi Valley's main players did not grow up there. I know a number of coaches are concerned about that."

Simi Valley Coach Dean Bradshaw says his program is being unfairly judged by critics.

"We know everything is on the up and up," Bradshaw said. "People are allowed to move. That is what has happened with two very good basketball players [Berumen and Fullove] who are at our school."

Bradshaw declined comment on Boys' situation. To play for Simi Valley this coming season, Boys will need a hardship waiver from the Southern Section.

The Southern Section on Monday received a hardship request filled out by Bobby Fullove on Boys' behalf. Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley said it will probably take a week to 10 days to investigate the case before the section makes a ruling.

"We want to be sure everything they're saying is true," Crowley said.

The Boys and Fullove families have known each other for years through their sons, who periodically played together on youth all-star teams. Berumen also played in the same circles.

Sue Lepisto said her son Garrett, a junior at Agoura, played on a traveling team in 1994 that also included Boys, Fullove, Berumen and Brett Michel, a Simi Valley sophomore who, like Fullove, started for the varsity as a freshman last season and helped the Pioneers to a 23-4 record and a share of the Marmonte League title.

Lepisto, an assistant principal at Taft, said Bobby Fullove was one of the traveling team's coaches and Jim Michel, Brett's father, put the squad together.

Several coaches believe Bobby Fullove and Jim Michel have worked behind the scenes to help build the Simi Valley team, which returns four starters led by Berumen, The Times' Ventura County player of the year.

Fullove denies he is anything but a well-meaning father. Branduinn Fullove will be a 17-year-old sophomore by the time the basketball season starts. Bobby said he had his son repeat the eighth grade for "social" reasons.

Brett Michel also repeated the eighth grade for reasons not related to academics.

"For somebody to say that [I've recruited players for Simi Valley], they are giving me more credit of having an impact on people's lives than I do," Bobby Fullove said. "I don't have any influence on where someone wants to move. They decide those things on their own."

Exactly who decided that Fullove would become Boys' legal guardian isn't clear.

Bobby Fullove said it was "the Christian thing to do."

Eric Boys, Ian's father, said the decision was placed "in God's hands."

"The Lord made someone available out of this chaos," Eric Boys said.

Julie Boys said the reason the eldest of her five children is living with another family is simple.

"There is a hardship in our family," she said. "End of story."

Eric and Julie Boys filed for bankruptcy on Aug. 13, about a month after Fullove was appointed Ian's legal guardian.

The Boys' four other children, ranging in age from 6 to 15, continue to live with their mother in a two-story house in Ventura owned by the family and assessed at $159,000 in 1996.

Eric Boys, who no longer lives in the home, said his wife has filed for divorce. He blames himself for the family's financial troubles.

"I mismanaged," he said. "I'm guilty."

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