Santa Monica Bans Tommie Smith From Coaching for Year

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith says the punishment--this time--is just.

Smith, who was banished from the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City for raising a gloved fist for Black power, has now been barred from coaching the Santa Monica College track team for one year for putting an ineligible student-athlete into competition.

“I think the college has handled it the right way,” Smith said. “It was the wrong thing to do and I got caught.”

As a result, Smith’s track team forfeits all medals and points won in 1986 Metropolitan Conference competition, at the Southern California regional meet and the state meet, said Walt Rilliet, state athletic director for the California Association of Community Colleges.


In addition, the one-year suspension is part of a three-year coaching probation for Smith, who will continue to teach classes at the college, Richard Moore, Santa Monica president and superintendent said.

Moore informed Rilliet last Thursday that the Santa Monica track team had used an ineligible athlete in competition this year.

“Moore has laid down the rules and that’s it,” Smith said.

On the suspension, Smith said: “If I can’t do the job right maybe I should quit. Coaching just doesn’t appeal to me right now.”


Smith said the ineligible athlete, Delane Olden, 20, a triple jumper, was a walk-on from Pasadena City College.

Community college athletes, in order to compete, must turn in a “green-sheet history,” accounting for their activities since high school graduation. That has to be verified with transcripts and other documents, according Ralph Vidal, Santa Monica men’s athletic director.

In Olden’s case, Smith said, the verification process was not completed and the student’s name was not entered on an eligibility list.

Friday, Olden said that before competing for Santa Monica he was recruited by Pasadena track Coach Skip Robinson from Lincoln High School in East St. Louis, Ill. During his 1985 freshman year at Pasadena, Smith said, Olden competed in two track meets.


But Smith, in violation of community college regulations, admitted that through the entire 1986 season, “I competed Delane as a freshman for Santa Monica.

“I tried to help the kid, I ended up hurting him and other students,” Smith said.