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Forward Thinking for Back to School


Things we'd like to see this school year . . .

* Junior college football and basketball teams with fewer players from outside California.

Some coaches with pipelines to Division I schools in other states are taking up spots in their rosters with athletes who, for the most part, don't even know the location of the junior colleges to which they are headed.

The trade-off is sweet for both sides. A four-year school in Florida or Ohio or Nevada ships a hotshot recruit to a California junior college to straighten up academically.

The player helps the college win for two years and returns to the four-year school on scholarship.

Of course, there's out-of-state tuition the players have to pay, plus living expenses. But that's no big problem, because coaches know how to get the players student grants and loans. Any other money the player receives comes from jobs, relatives and who knows where else.

The increasing practice of recruiting athletes from out of state--even out of country--is contrary to the concept of community college. Someone should explain that to the win-at-all-costs coaches.

* Some honest-to-goodness, concrete proof that Cal State Northridge has a viable plan to build an on-campus football stadium.

We'd like to see blueprints. We'd like to see the fund-raising ledgers. We'd like to see action.

Since 1971, when Northridge started playing football at Devonshire Downs-turned-North Campus Stadium, almost every president and athletic director at the school has pledged to see through the construction of a stadium.

They have been empty promises and smoke screens.

With Northridge about to start its last season in the Big Sky Conference before joining the football-less Big West Conference, the university is no longer under pressure to build or upgrade a facility by a specific date, as mandated by the Big Sky.

That means administrators can drag their feet forever, much like their predecessors. Why do this year what you can put off for a decade?

Northridge officials admit they are de-emphasizing football, but maintain they will build a stadium. It doesn't add up.

Perhaps this school year will bring a clearer picture of how committed Northridge is to building a stadium--and even keeping football.

* More people attending college games in the region.

Whether at junior colleges, Northridge, Cal Lutheran or The Master's, talented athletes often toil in nearly deserted fields and arenas where all the "fans" seem to arrive in the same van.

Funny thing is, there's probably more entertainment value for the dollar at many of those games than elsewhere.

* Mission College actually moving forward with plans to reinstate men's and women's soccer, baseball and softball in 2001-02.

The school needs to get its act together over the next months and hire the personnel required to accomplish the task, from an athletic director to coaches, assistants and trainers.

It also must secure fields, equipment and transportation.

The time to start taking steps is now, not down the road when those who want to see sports back at Mission demand a progress report and get nothing but excuses.

* Wealthy alumni of schools in the region, especially junior colleges, stand up and be counted during fund-raising campaigns.

Some professional athletes give back to their former schools with cash gifts or by lending their names to fund-raising events, such as golf tournaments.

But many others don't, forgetting their roots and those who helped refine their skills. And that's a shame.

Consider Pierce. The Brahmas are among the top baseball teams in the state every year, but their facility badly needs some sprucing. A little paint, a tarp for the outfield fence, just to name a couple of needs.

Are all the deep pockets out there listening?

Let's hope so. And let's hope they don't let this school year end without making a difference.

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