Tommie Smith Suspended as Coach for Using Ineligible Track Athlete

Times Staff Writer

Tommie Smith, the 1968 Olympic 200-meter gold medalist, has been suspended from his track coaching duties next year at Santa Monica College, and his track team this year must forfeit all medals and points for using an ineligible student-athlete.

In addition, the college has placed Smith on a three-year coaching probation, though he will continue as a faculty member with a full teaching load of classes, said Dr. Richard Moore, Santa Monica president and superintendent.

Smith, who gained notoriety at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City when he and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power-salute on receiving their medals in the 200 (Carlos finished third), did not return phone calls Friday to comment on his suspension.

On Thursday, Moore informed the state commission governing community college athletics that the ineligible student had competed through the entire 1986 season, including the Southern California regional meet and the State meet. The team must forfeit all awards won in meets in which the ineligible athlete competed, said Walt Rilliet, state athletic director for the California Assn. of Community Colleges.

Moore declined to name the ineligible athlete, but the college newspaper speculated that it was triple jumper Delane Olden. Although Olden denied knowing anything about being ineligible, he did say that he carried 12 units of course work last fall but had been “unfairly dropped” from two classes, losing six units in the process.


Community college athletes must carry 12 units of work and maintain a 2.0 grade-point average to keep their eligibility.