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By John Harte / Special to The Californian
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By Casey Christie / The Californian
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By Michael Fagans / The Californian
By JEFF EVANS, Californian columnist firstname.lastname@example.org
Bakersfield College is 0-for-2 in its appeal of sanctions against its football program. But the battle to overturn the sanctions college officials deem unacceptable will continue.
The California Community College Athletic Association’s five-person appeals board unanimously rejected BC’s appeal of the sanctions that included stripping BC of last fall’s state football championship.
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BC officials were notified by e-mail of the decision Friday and released the CCCAA’s eight-page e-mail explaining its ruling Tuesday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, the eight-page response glosses over the good faith considerations raised by the college, and the tone of punitive authority and thinly veiled disdain is disconcerning,” BC President Sonya Christian said in a news release. “While we are disappointed in both the conclusion and tone of the decision, we continue to believe in our student athletes. We will defend what is rightfully theirs and we believe that these specific sanctions and the sanction process deserve better and more respectful deliberation.”
BC officials have steadfastly maintained that any penalties for athletics violations should be levied against the institution only and not on BC’s student athletes.
On May 14, six days after BC self-reported several violations of CCCAA regulations pertaining to subsidizing, inducements and special privileges football players allegedly received, Southern California Football Conference Commissioner Jim Sartoris announced that BC would forfeit all regular-season wins from the 2011 and 2012 seasons — making BC’s official records those years 0-10.
Sartoris also placed BC on probation for two years and ruled that the Renegades would be ineligible for postseason play in football this season.
The CCCAA subsequently vacated the 2012 state championship the Renegades won in December.
BC appealed Sartoris’ decision to the SCFA appeals board, which announced June 25 that Sartoris’ sanctions were upheld.
On July 9, BC officials took the next step in the appeals’ process by filing an appeal with the CCCAA’s five-person board of appeals.
BC spokeswoman Amber Chiang said late Tuesday that the school will continue to fight the sanctions by appealing to the full CCCAA Board of Directors, the next step in the appeal process according to CCCAA bylaws.
Chiang said BC officials have been told that the deadline to file its next appeal is Aug. 5. Carlyle Carter, executive director, president and CEO of the CCCAA, gave BC officials that date, she said. A BC news release said the CCCAA Board of Directors then has 28 working days to respond to that appeal.
“This will be with us for awhile, I think,” Chiang said.
After the Board of Directors issues its ruling, CCCAA bylaws say the final step in the appeals process is binding arbitration.
But Chiang said BC could opt to take the matter to court instead.
“It’s been discussed,” she said. “We will absolutely go that route if necessary. That’s always an option and has always been in play.
“The president (Christian) has been instructed by our board (Kern Community College District Board of Trustees) to go as far as necessary.”
As for the binding arbitration possibility, Chiang said: “We have asked for clarification on who is on the arbitration panel. We have not yet heard back on that from Carlyle Carter.”
Chiang added: “We are trying to exhaust the appeals process. Once we exhaust our appeals, we will evaluate everything again and proceed from there.
In BC’s June 12 appeal to the SCFA board of appeals, the college submitted additional documents and statements addressing the earlier “self reported” violations and asked the appeals board to call a “testimonial hearing and review of the ten points of error” in the initial Sartoris ruling.
BC’s “self reporting” information submitted to the SCFA on May 8 was based on an independent review of issues pertaining to the football program conducted by the Bakersfield accounting firm of Brown Armstrong.
The alleged “special privileges” made available to football players but not to the general BC student population included jobs, pre-game meals for home games and several after-practice barbecues, housing for out-of-area players and rent collection for that housing by BC coach Jeff Chudy, who would pass it on to the property owner.
In the CCCAA response released Tuesday, the CCCAA said: “The determination was made that based on the self-report information from Bakersfield College it was not necessary to seek additional information in the form of a testimonial hearing.” The CCCAA appeals board went point-by-point over the 10 “points of error” and ruled after each item: “The violation stands.”
The CCCAA appeals board dismissed BC’s claim that the sanctions and penalties are “excessive, disproportionate and not supported by the bylaws.”
“The college has failed to recognize the severity of the infractions which further point to the lack of knowledge and understanding of the CCCAA Constitution and standard practices by those responsible for the administration and oversight of the intercollegiate athletic program,” the CCCAA appeals statement said.
“As indicated in the report of the investigator, there is evidence that some of the practices of subsidy and special privilege have been going on for several years and many college personnel were aware of some of the events as well as the employment of football student athletes. It was also stated that the athletic director questioned the permissibility of the barbecues and mentioned it to the coach but did not follow through to curtail the activity.”
The appeals board then said the penalties assessed “meet the standards outlined in the CCCAA Constitution” and denied the appeal.