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Shake-Up at Northridge

Sources at Cal State Northridge indicate coaches Braswell and Strametz will share the athletic director's duties on an interim basis.

November 04, 1998|From Staff Reports

NORTHRIDGE — Charting a fresh direction for the Cal State Northridge athletic program is likely to become the responsibility of two men who know the school well.

Bobby Braswell, a Northridge graduate about to enter his third season as coach of the men's basketball team, and Don Strametz, dean of the school's head coaches, are the top candidates to take over interim leadership of the school's athletic program, sources inside the program said Tuesday.

Paul Bubb, Northridge's athletic director since July 1995, resigned Tuesday night after the conclusion of an internal investigation by Northridge officials into the arrest of Michael Abraham, women's basketball coach, on federal drug charges.

Bubb told The Times on Sunday that in February 1997, he was approached by several women's basketball players who suspected Abraham was using drugs. Bubb previously said he "never" heard such allegations.

Judy Brame, senior associate athletic director, also resigned Tuesday, a day after Bubb told The Times she also knew about the allegations against Abraham.

Northridge President Blenda J. Wilson is not expected to appoint an interim athletic director until later this week. She also must select an acting women's basketball coach because Brame had taken over the team when Abraham was placed on leave after his arrest.

As athletic director, Wilson said she will be seeking "somebody who is a team-builder of ethos, someone experienced at the Division I-AA level, comfortable in a diverse community at Northridge, and a fund-raiser. Someone skilled in communication and able to convey the potential of intercollegiate athletics without hesitation or compromise."

Braswell, 36, is a 1984 graduate of Northridge and began his coaching career at nearby Cleveland High.

Braswell would not comment on speculation he would replace Bubb, except to say he wants what is best for Northridge.

Certainly, he would not give up his duties as basketball coach. Braswell has earned a reputation as a strong recruiter and has stocked the Matadors with enough talent this season to compete for the Big Sky Conference championship.

Northridge finished a somewhat disappointing 14-14 last season, 5-9 in conference play. However, the Matadors have qualified for the conference tournament each of the past two years, and in 1997 advanced to the tournament final.

Before coming to Northridge, Braswell was the top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Oregon for four seasons and at Long Beach State for three years.

He coached Cleveland for four years, from soon after he graduated from Northridge until 1989, winning two Valley League titles.

Strametz, 53, has been men's and women's cross-country coach at Northridge since 1985 and men's and women's track and field coach since 1986.

Before that, he was women's cross-country coach from 1980-84, women's track coach from 1981-85 and men's cross-country coach in 1979 and '80, all while teaching full time at Mt. Vernon junior high in Los Angeles.

Strametz did not return phone messages left at his office and home. Energetic and outgoing, he has enjoyed considerable success during his career at Northridge.

The women's track team finished among the top 10 in the NCAA Division II championships seven times between 1983 and '90 and the men's team was second once, eighth twice and ninth once between 1987 and '90.

In cross-country, Northridge placed among the top five in the Division II women's championships seven times between 1981 and '89, including consecutive runner-up finishes in 1985 and '86. The men were 10th or better four times between 1979 and '89.

Northridge track athletes have set numerous school records since moving to the Division I level in the fall of 1990.

The Matador women won the 1997 Big Sky Conference outdoor title, but the most noteworthy performance remains Darcy Arreola's victory in the women's 1,500 meters in the 1991 NCAA championships in Eugene, Ore.

Strametz is president of the California-Nevada Track and Field Coaches Assn. and was instrumental in starting the California-Nevada championships in 1994.

A 1968 graduate of Cal State Los Angeles, Strametz coached the boys' track team at Locke High from 1974-79 before coming to Northridge. Locke won the 1979 City Section title.

Times staff writers Steve Henson and John Ortega contributed to this story.

* MAIN STORY: A1

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