By Lois Henry
When you're caught with your pants down, best to pull 'em up and move along.
Not holler at everyone that "There's nothing here to see!" which, unfortunately, seems to be Bakersfield College's strategy in the ongoing Helmet Club/football debacle.
Bakersfield College has put most of the documentation associated with the sanctions it received for its football program online.
You can read them here: http://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/sanctions/
- SCFA denies BC's appeal of sanctions
- BC's appeal of football sanctions denied
- Revenge fueled penalties against BC football team
- BC disputes violations in 77-page appeal
- BC files appeal for football penalties, sanction
- 'First Look': BC Helmet Club president talks about sanctions
- KCCD board correct to appeal harsh penalties
- SONYA CHRISTIAN: Sanctions against BC's football team are inappropriately harsh
- District to appeal sanctions levied on BC football
- Renegades' sanctions: It's on the chancellor
- 'First Look': Evans on BC football sanctions
- District, board of trustees non-commital about fighting BC football sanctions
- BC should put up a fight over stiff sanctions
- Chudy, local supporters react to sanctions against Renegade football program
- Jeff Evans: Athletic Association showed no mercy toward Renegades
- BC vacates 2012 state football championship
On Monday, the school lost its first appeal of sanctions, including being stripped of its 2012 state football championship, for favoring and subsidizing some student athletes.
There are at least two more appeals and an arbitration that BC could drag us all through, if so inclined.
It's a huge waste of time and effort. And to what end? Because some in the community have their pride out of joint? Pssssh.
BC, with a big assist from the private Helmet Club booster organization, broke the rules.
It had apparently been going on for some time, according to Southern California Football Association Commissioner Jim Sartoris. (Which reminds me, Kern Community College Chancellor and former BC President Sandra Serrano ought to be held accountable as well).
For anyone who thinks the SCFA is throwing the book at us, uh uh. A look at the sanctions meted out to other schools over the last five years shows what BC got is perfectly in keeping with other punishments.
It's time to move forward with whatever shred of dignity we have left and ensure this doesn't happen again.
I understand the political realities faced by current BC President Sonya Christian.
On one hand, she needs to fix this mess. On the other, she likely has college donors breathing down her neck not to let a bunch of pencil-pushin' regulators steal our championship.
Not an easy position. But she needs to find the backbone to tell the community "no" and walk away from the appeals.
There's no doubt that California Community College Athletic Association rules were violated under BC's football program. (BC is under direct oversight of the SCFA, which enforces the CCCAA rules).
BC admitted breaking the rules and a private audit paid for by the college confirmed it.
In its lengthy appeal of the sanctions, BC actually contradicts some of its earlier statements about the violations and tries to worm out of them as "mere technicalities."
The violations were not technicalities.
Schools can't give athletes special favors, such as free meals, special housing arrangements or pay them for work not offered to other students.
BC did all three.
Football players were given jobs outside of BC's regular work-study program and paid for by the Helmet Club.
During the 2012 football season, 12 players were paid more than $20,000 combined, according to the audit conducted by Brown Armstrong Accounting.
Some players earned just $200 for a month's work, others more. One player earned more than $3,200 for six months of mostly janitorial work.
The prior year, players were only paid about $10,000 through the Helmet Club, according to the group's 2011 tax returns. Its 2010 and 2009 returns don't list how much was paid but both state that paying players for on-campus work was one of the club's three main programs.
During football season, players were also treated to special barbecues every Thursday night courtesy of the Helmet Club, as reported to Brown Armstrong by Head Football Coach Jeff Chudy. (In BC's appeal, Chudy says it was only 10 Thursday nights.)
Players also got meals provided at every home game.
Both are clearly against the rules. Meals are only allowed on a "special occasion" basis, such as an end of season banquet, according to the bylaws.
Athletic Director Ryan Beckwith even told Chudy he didn't think the meals were permissable but he wasn't sure and didn't follow up, according to Brown Armstrong.
Sheesh. It took me all of five minutes to get the bylaws online.
On the housing issue, there were two homes near BC owned by Randy Bender that just happened to always be fully occupied by football players, the audit notes and Chudy and Bender confirm.
Bender's statement to BC, as filed in the college's appeal, says he is a real estate investor not involved with the college nor the booster club and has norhing to do with the football program.
OK, maybe it was just by chance. Or maybe Chudy was directing recruits to the houses, as the SCFA and CCCAA charged.
Either way, at some point Chudy was collecting rent from the players and giving it to Bender, according to the audit and both men.
It was all perfectly innocent, Chudy relates in BC's appeal.
That's an awful lot of smoke for no fire.
Bottom line, as the head coach, Chudy should have known better than to have allowed even the appearance of impropriety.
But here's what really chaps my hide about BC's appeal.
In it, the school argues that the CCCAA is unfairly and inaccurately deeming students as having been ineligible to play based on the school's misdeeds.
Wrong. CCCAA bylaws say you can't recruit athletes using inducements, such as the promise of housing or jobs. If you do, those kids are ineligible and any games they won are forfeit.
So, BC's argument is specious at best and cynical at worst.
After having put the students in this position in the first place with its cavalier attitude toward the rules, BC is now trying to use them as a sob shield, crying that the championship should be reinstated "for the students."
While the students may be disappointed, they aren't harmed by BC having to forfeit the state championship. They won't lose any scholarships, their educational standing isn't threatened and they're eligibility to play next year isn't affected.
It's BC that doesn't get the championship on its record. It's BC that's losing face in the community.
It's BC that's being punished and that's exactly as it should be.
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lois Henry, not The Bakersfield Californian. Her column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Comment at http://www.bakersfield.com, call her at 395-7373 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org