Seventeen of 22 sophomore football players on the 1984 Santa Monica College team are transferring to four-year colleges or universities this year. SMC officials see that as an achievement in a time when California community colleges are being accused of not living up to their role as transfer institutions.
The SMC transfers will continuing their education at such schools as Purdue, Texas Southern, Arizona, Hawaii and various California state universities.
Among the Corsairs who will play ball at four-year schools are junior college All-American and all-state offensive guard Frank Arriola, who will go to Arizona on an athletic scholarship, and all-state tight end Ryan Vickers, also on an athletic scholarship, who has begun the spring session at Arizona.
Defensive back David Price will transfer to Purdue after he earns his two-year degree this semester at Santa Monica.
Wilburn Chooses Fresno
All-state defensive back Fred Wilburn, who is concurrently earning his high school diploma at Banning High School in Los Angeles and his associate in arts degree at Santa Monica, will be at Fresno State on an athletic scholarship.
Corsairs Coach Pat Young said, "We don't get the top students at community colleges. We're dealing with a different population than the UC system or the state colleges.
"At the community college level it's very difficult for an 18-year-old to compete with the average student. We hope along the way they'll become inspired and interested in getting an education."
Three years ago the college stepped up efforts to steer football players into academic programs so they could more easily transfer to NCAA and NAIA schools. Toward that end, the college's counseling department assigned one counselor to help the athletes.
High Transfer Percentage
In 1981, 16 out of 27 sophomores (59%) went on to four-year schools, and in 1982, the year the college started to implement academic "special programs" for football players, 16 of 26 sophomores (61%) transferred to four-year schools.
In 1983, it dropped to 10 of 20 sophomores who transferred. Owen Hahn, assistant football coach, said the drop might have occurred because the Corsairs had a 3-5 record that year and, therefore, the players were less attractive to college recruiters.
But 1983 was also the year the college decided, because of budget cutbacks, to eliminate a daily "study hall" for football players that immediately followed practices. An assistant football coach had supervised the study sessions.
This past year the transfer rate was 80%. As the fall semester began, the college decided upon a daylong mass orientation for the football squad that included assessment testing in English and math. The orientation also included counseling sessions in which players were advised to enroll in transfer classes.
Before 1982, SMC football players took college courses "based on the coach's individual philosophy," said Bobby Adams, the college's counseling director.
"You'd see football players taking 'basket-weaving' courses," said Bob Rubio, SMC student athletes counselor.
"We don't want to just sit here and be gatekeepers, saying, 'Yes, you can' and 'No, you can't' to athletes," Adams said. "We want to help actualize the student athlete's goals."
Throughout the fall, players were urged to use the tutoring program and check with counselors Rubio and Adams for follow-up guidance, said Jim D'Angelo, SMC assistant dean of athletics.
Owen Hahn, assistant football coach, said the emphasize on academic goals came from the athletic department. "The coaching staff had been concerned for quite a while, but when everybody got concerned it got really important.
"We recognize the direct correlation between being a good student and being a good player."
D'Angelo agreed: "We don't just want athletes to come here and be used, abused or dumped."
But college officials say that football players have to be marketed and advertised, too.
Ralph Vidal, Santa Monica men's athletic director, said, "It's no different from a business. You touch all the bases and hope you get lucky."
For the most part, Hahn has handled that end along with Robert Taylor, another assistant coach. This year Hahn added a new element to promotion of players, sending a detailed description of each sophomore's athletic strengths and academic background with a cover letter to 100 colleges. "Everyone got unofficial (grade) transcripts on each kid," he said.
Hahn said that he thinks the mailer attracted attention to players and that he also provided "very good game films" for about 100 four-year college coaches who came to Santa Monica to recruit.
The friendship of Taylor with Purdue secondary coach Ron Mims helped Price, the defensive back who is bound for the Boilermakers.
Taylor said four Corsairs benefited from his friendship with Ron Beard, Prairie View A & M linebacker coach. Offensive tackle John L. Allen, linebacker James Manuel, offensive tackle Sal Poloai and defensive tackle Faatafa Tumanuvao are attending that school near Houston.
"All of a sudden we've become a very efficient mill for recruiters to visit," Hahn said.
The other Corsairs transferring are all-state quarterback Craig Austin (Northern Arizona), all-state punter Jon Bauroth (Hawaii), all-state defensive tackle Anthony Collier (Fresno State), all-state linebacker Darwin Peterson (Texas Southern), linebacker John B. Allen and safety Michael Miller (Chico State), running back D'Andre Payne (Cal State Long Beach) and center Glenn Pulliam (Texas Southern).