Tuesday, May 14 2013 04:31 PM

BC vacates 2012 state football championship

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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 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 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 JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer

Bakersfield College will vacate its 2012 state football championship and forfeit its regular-season wins from the 2011 and 2012 seasons because of California Community College Athletic Association rules violations.

The football program has also been placed on probation for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and the team will be ineligible for postseason play in 2013.

The penalties were announced by BC spokeswoman Amber Chiang in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

The college was officially notified of the penalties in a letter received about 1 p.m. Tuesday from the Southern California Football Association, Chiang said.

BC was punished for six violations of CCCAA Bylaw 2, which governs subsidizing, inducements and special privileges. The Helmet Club, BC’s longstanding football booster group, was targeted as the culprit for many violations.

BC went 11-2 last season, capped by a 35-14 rout over City College of San Francisco on Dec. 8 for the program’s first state football title. The game was played in Memorial Stadium before a crowd of 16,625.

“I’m devastated for our players, coaches and community,” BC coach Jeff Chudy said. “Still trying to digest it all.”

The violations were:

• Paying students for work with funds raised by a “non-affiliated booster club,” referring to the Helmet Club, “outside BC oversight and provided to football players only.”

• Housing BC football players from outside BC’s “permissible recruiting area” that 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.

When asked how many football players received the housing benefit, Chiang said: “Out of a team of about 86 it was less than eight.”

BC President Sonya Christian spoke briefly after Chiang outlined the violations, read from a prepared statement and quickly departed without answering any questions.

“The sanctions against the institution are understandable and appropriate,” said Christian, who began her BC president duties in early January.

“On behalf of the college and administration, I would like to offer an apology to our community and to our students,” she added. “I am confident that we will execute the steps ... to ensure that these problems never happen again.”

Chudy and athletic director Ryan Beckwith were not part of the press conference. Also absent was BC Vice President Zav Dadabhoy, who reportedly was BC’s primary contact person with the SCFA and CCCAA.

Chiang did most of the talking at the press conference, which was attended by many non-media spectators.

“There is a lot of what happens with the football team that is grounded in tradition,” Chiang said. “This program has been around for a really long time. And when you have tradition, sometimes you don’t realize there’s something wrong. And that was the case here. ...

“The college had an error in judgement in not bringing the Helmet Club under the auspices of the Bakersfield College Foundation. With the Foundation in place, these things would not have happened.”

BC’s official records will be 0-10 for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. No member of the football coaching staff or athletic department will lose their job or be suspended because of the violations, Chiang said.

BC officials have ordered that the Helmet Club “cease and desist in engaging in activities related to Bakersfield College,” Chiang said.

And BC has directed the athletic department to “cease and desist from all activities related to the Helmet Club and any other external organization unaffiliated with Bakersfield College,” she added.

The Helmet Club originally consisted of former players and coaches. In recent years, its membership has been open to anyone.

Carl Bowser, a former BC player, coach and athletic director, said the Helmet Club raised $90,000 last season, with most of that money going for equipment such as helmets, knee and shoulder pads and other equipment. Bowser said about $11,000 went for minimum-wage salaries for out-of-state football players’ on-campus jobs that led to one of the violations.

“The school has not backed the program. They’ve cut the budget,” Bowser said. “They’ve cut the coaches’ pay and making them teach more. I think they’re trying to de-emphasize football.”

Chiang said the BC administration first became aware of potential problems after being contacted by the CCCAA on Jan. 23. Chiang said BC immediately began its own investigation. “The investigation revealed the violations,” she said.

Four BC sources said a non-football coach from BC’s athletic department reported potential violations to the CCCAA that triggered the investigation. “That would be news to me,” Chiang said.

Chiang pleaded ignorance when asked about how the Helmet Club has been doing these same things for its entire 30-year history.

“Because the Helmet Club operated outside of the control of the college, the college didn’t have any knowledge of the violations that were taking place,” she said. “Now that we do, we’ve taken action and we’ve corrected it.”

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