Cullum to Sue CSUN to Regain Long-Held Position as Golf Coach
Bill Cullum, the Cal State Northridge golf coach who was reassigned to the job of weightlifting instructor last week, said he will begin legal action against CSUN in an effort to regain the position he held for 21 years.
“I’ve already obtained legal advice and am about to hire an attorney,” Cullum said Monday. “We should be able to begin some action by Thursday or Friday.”
Cullum guided the Matadors to NCAA Division II golf championships in 1969, 1973 and 1974. His team has been ranked among the top five Division II golf teams in the nation in five of the past six years. But last Monday he was informed by Sam Winningham, chairman of the CSUN Department of Physical Education and Athletics, that he was no longer the golf coach. Athletic Director Bob Hiegert has begun a search for a new coach, who will serve on a part-time basis. The golf team’s next scheduled match is the Nevada Reno Wolfpack Classic Oct. 2-3 in Lake Tahoe.
“I don’t see on what basis he could file a lawsuit,” Winningham said of Cullum’s threatened action. “I suppose he has to explore all of his avenues, but I think precedent has been established on our campus and in our system that if such a teaching assignment has been challenged, it has been upheld. Someone has to make teaching assignments, and that’s the responsibility of the chair.
“I simply felt a change was necessary,” Winningham said. “The golf coaching assignment makes up just a fourth of the coach’s total teaching time during the season and just one-sixth of the teaching load in the off-season. I have to be concerned about the overall teaching that goes on in terms of total assignment, and if it interferes during the instructional week then there is obviously concern on my part. I felt that other students may not have been getting the attention of the instructor because he’s not available to them because of his golf duties.”
Cullum said he devoted between 30 and 50 hours a week to the golf team.
Cullum, whose son, Bill, is a member of the golf team, said the Matadors were considered potential national champions again this year, with four players returning from the 1985 squad that finished third in the NCAA tournament last year.
“I love golf, I have a doctorate in administration and a master’s in psychology,” Cullum said. “I never thought I’d end up as the weightlifting instructor.”
The move was seen by some at the school as the first step in a process that will eliminate the CSUN golf program after the current season.
“I think Winningham used Bill Cullum in order to get rid of the golf program,” said Pat Boyd, a member of the golf team and a Division II All-American last season. “I think this year he got rid of Bill Cullum and next year he plans on getting rid of the golf team.”
Winningham did not deny the charge.
“I would never challenge that he is a good golf coach,” said Winningham. “But I have my own opinions as to whether golf is a viable sport when we’re struggling for resources and we measure what sports we offer against each other. Golf certainly doesn’t fit some of the criteria. It is not conducted on the campus, it is not visible to the student body, it is not by nature a spectator sport and just doesn’t lend itself to student involvement or support. On the other hand, golf is a very popular sport in our culture and in our country.”
Winningham said that he already has a sport in mind to replace golf at CSUN.
“I could make a good argument for women’s soccer instead of golf,” he said. “Women’s soccer seems to be the coming sport. When you analyze what sports you keep and what sports you let go, it seems women’s soccer is becoming more and more popular. I’m not saying we are going to have women’s soccer, but if we are to add a sport, that would seem to be the logical one to add. It would involve more students than the golf program and it has spectator appeal and gate receipt income potential.”