College

Thursday, Jun 13 2013 10:38 PM

BC disputes violations in 77-page appeal

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    By John Harte / Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield College defeats City College of San Francisco to win the California Community College football championship. The Renegades celebrate their state championship.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Congressman Kevin McCarthy (at podium) congratulates the entire Bakersfield College Renegades football team with Congressional Records Statements for their state championship season in 2012.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield College spokeswoman Amber Chiang answers media questions during a press conference held on campus in the Administration Building to announce sanctions against the football program on Tuesday afternoon.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian reads from a written statement at a press conference held on campus to announce sanctions against the football team.

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BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian said Thursday morning that most, if not all, of the alleged infractions by the BC football team did not occur.

The Renegades' football team has been accused of seven violations of California Community College Athletic Association bylaws by the Southern California Football Association.

In a ruling announced May 14 after BC self-reported the alleged infractions, the SCFA said BC must forfeit all regular-season wins from the 2011 and 2012 seasons, BC is ineligible for the postseason in 2013 and is on probation for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

The same day, the CCCAA vacated BC's 2012 state football championship.

"We will continue our work to officially restore the state championship to our students and to ensure the level of sanctions is appropriate," Christian said Thursday.

Because of time constraints, Christian said BC was unable to prepare a more thorough report on the alleged infractions by an early May deadline set by the SCFA. "If we have had more time, we could have had a more detailed investigation," Christian said.

Christian said BC has continued to investigate and now says a "more complete examination showed a lack of evidence for the alleged infractions."

The punishment was in response to three "broad allegations," Christian said: that BC financially subsidized football players, that recruits were "inappropriately induced" and BC football players received special privileges.

"There were no subsidies, there were no recruitment inducements and there were at most technical violations to which Bakersfield College responded immediately by issuing cease-and-desist letters (to the Helmet Club, BC's football boosters group) until we established appropriate institution protocol and controls," Christian said.

BC on Wednesday formally filed an appeal with the SCFA. Christian said BC has confirmation the 77-page appeal was received by the SCFA Wednesday night, the deadline for an appeal to be filed.

The appeal included written statements from BC head football coach Jeff Chudy, rental property owner Randy Bender, BC Vice President of Student Affairs Zav Dadabhoy and Glen Fields, a 30-year employee of the Kern Community College District who supervises student workers.

No date has been set for BC's appeal to be reviewed by the SCFA appeals committee, according to BC spokeswoman Amber Chiang.

BC officials were informed Jan.23 by SCFA Commissioner Jim Sartoris about allegations of CCCAA bylaws infractions by the football program. BC hired the Bakersfield accounting firm of Brown Armstrong to conduct an independent investigation. On May 8, BC forwarded those findings to the SCFA, which led to the May 14 sanctions and punishment.

BC's alleged violations were:

* Paying football players for work with funds raised by a non-affiliated booster club (the Helmet Club), and the jobs were provided only for football players.

* Housing provided to out-of-area football players was "facilitated by staff."

* Facilitating the payment of rent to the owner of the housing.

* Implying the availability of housing and student work to gain interest from players.

* Providing a weekly meal to football players that was subsidized by boosters.

* Providing a pre-game dinner to football players before home games.

Chudy said in his statement that football players were never paid for work they did not perform or paid an excessive wage. He said players seeking jobs were sent to Fields, who monitored the students' working hours and supervised their work. Students were paid minimum wage, $8 an hour, Chudy said. Time cards detailing specific players' work hours were part of the appeals paperwork.

Chudy said players shared two rental houses owned by Bender and the students contracted directly with Bender. "I never obtained, secured or solicited housing for a prospect or student athlete in our football program," Chudy said.

Chudy said Bender at times asked if the players could drop off their rent in the football office when Bender was out of town. "I never considered that I was doing anything other than extending a courtesy to Mr. Bender who did not want cash sitting in his mailbox," Chudy said.

As for the meals, there were no "weekly" meals, Chudy said, adding there were 10 barbecues from the start of August practices through the early December state championship game. "I believed the barbecues to be allowed under the bylaws as an infrequent special event," Chudy said. "No one ever provided a definition of 'frequent' or 'infrequent.' "

The pre-game meal before home games was donated by a local restaurant, which provided "a pan of pasta noodles with sauce and dinner rolls," Chudy said.

"The food was placed on a table in the locker room and the students would help themselves if they needed food," Chudy said. "I do not consider these 'meals' because we did not come together as a group to eat. We did not go to a restaurant, we did not order off a menu, we did not enjoy multiple courses. This was not a mandatory activity."

Chudy added that the meal provided nutrition and hydration for players arriving up to 4 hours before game time and was necessary for the health and safety of players.

Bender said each rental house, both located close to BC, was rented for $1,000 a month and he permitted 4-5 students in each residence. Christian said the rent is market value for the area and the appeal documents include rental property information for those homes and others in the area.

Dadabhoy, as a BC vice president, oversees the BC athletic department. He said in his statement that he was informed by BC women's track coach Pam Kelley, who he said was BC's CCCAA liaison, that CCCAA President Carlyle Carter had been "concerned" about Bakersfield College for a long time.

Dadabhoy said he and Kelley met with Carter in Sacramento on March 13.

"It was clear to me that Mr. Carter and Ms. Kelley had previously discussed the alleged violations of the Bakersfield College football program," Dadabhoy said in his statement. "These were shared between them while Ms. Kelley sought advice from Mr. Carter about a personnel matter pertaining to Ms. Kelley."

Dadabhoy also said that Carter and Kelley "joked between themselves about the barbecues for the football program, which they both apparently knew had been occurring for years."

Dadabhoy said he "wondered to myself why Mr. Carter would not have raised the issue sooner if he knew the barbecues were occurring and believed them to be a violation of the bylaws."

Dadabhoy added: "I believe that at the time of our meeting, Mr. Carlyle (sic) had formed judgments about the college that precluded him from being a neutral decision maker."

Messages left on Kelley's home and cell phones seeking comment were not returned Thursday.

Carter did not return messages left on his work voicemail and his secretary said he was out of town.

In the May 8 self-reporting letter to Sartoris, Christian suggested BC be placed on probation for one year, that BC be banned from postseason play for one year and that BC submit regular reports to the SCFA.

On Thursday, she said BC has withdrawn the postseason ban as a part of the sanctions.

"I have said all along that the level of sanctions were unfair, unreasonable and unwarranted and that they inappropriately target our students," Christian said. "Our students did nothing wrong. We believe that appropriate sanctions should not impact students. ...

"Our student athletes in the football program are the 2012 state champions. They won the championship fair and square."

The 77-page appeal is available on-line on BC's web page (www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/sanctions).

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