Vote to Allow Cypress to Protest Today : If COA Says Yes, Basketball Recruiting Case Will Be Heard Friday

Times Staff Writer

The Commission on Athletics (COA) of the California Assn. of Community Colleges will vote today to decide whether it will allow Cypress College to protest the 1985-86 postseason ban placed on the Charger basketball team by the COA in August.

The 21 community college administrators, coaches and instructors who make up the COA will be polled individually on the first day of its regularly scheduled fall meeting at the Amfac Hotel in Burlingame.

If a majority votes to allow Cypress to protest, the protest will be heard Friday morning in a closed-door session. Then, another vote would be taken to either support or rescind the postseason ban imposed because of a recruiting violation by Don Johnson, the Chargers' veteran coach.

Johnson and his coaching staff visited the house of Jeff Livesay in May in an effort to recruit the forward from Norco High School, which is in Riverside City College's recruiting district.

According to the State Athletic Code, it is illegal for a coach to recruit an athlete who lives outside the school's community college district. The code also stipulates that a coach cannot meet with an athlete outside of the school's district boundaries for the purpose of recruiting.

The violation was discovered by Dave Waxman, Riverside City coach, who was also recruiting Livesay. Waxman notified Jim Kross, Riverside City's athletic director, who notified Cypress and South Coast Conference officials.

Don MacKenzie, South Coast Conference commissioner, placed Johnson on personal probation and put a letter of reprimand in the coach's permanent file.

But the COA's Southern Appeals Board, not satisfied with the South Coast Conference's actions, decided to take Johnson's punishment one step further and in August voted to prohibit Cypress from playing in the 1986 playoff and the State Championship Tournament.

Johnson says the violation was a technical one and that the punishment by the COA was too harsh.

"The penalty exceeded the violation in this case by a million miles," he said. "If we offered inducements, like an apartment, or a car or money, then the penalty would be valid.

"But we went to the Livesays' home only because the family had invited us there and had missed an earlier meeting we had scheduled on campus. We went there only to dispense information on our program. The boy had already made first-contact with us--we didn't go to him first. There were no ill-intentions on our part in this at all."

If Cypress' protest will be heard, Dr. Jack Scott, Cypress president, will fly to Northern California and represent the school in the closed-door session.

Johnson, who has an 18-year record of 386-161 with two state championships (1977 and 1980) and five conference titles, said he will be happy when the matter is closed, even if his hope of having the postseason ban rescinded is not realized.

"It would put our kids in a very tough situation and have a negative effect on morale if we can't play in the playoffs," Johnson said. "But whatever happens, it will be good that it is over. This had been going on so darned long, we're all tired of it."

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