Former Hart High basketball Coach Doug Michelson, who was not rehired for the 1987-88 season because of his fight with a referee, has been named women's basketball coach at Valley College.
Michelson, who coached at Hart for five seasons, said Monday he probably will not pursue legal action against the school because he had sought reinstatement only, not punitive damages.
Hart administrators are expected to name Michelson's successor Friday. According to Hart Principal Laurence Strauss, the three finalists are Beverly Hills High Coach Jack Dyck, Elliott Turrett, formerly the Crossroads High coach, and Greg Herrick, an assistant at College of the Canyons and formerly the coach at Cleveland High.
Diedra Stark, women's athletic director at Valley, said Michelson clearly was the best candidate, despite the altercation at Hart. "The incident was considered and he knows what is expected," Stark said. "It also was considered that he coached for 17 years without any problems."
Although part-time coaches cannot be hired under post-layoff restrictions in the Los Angeles Community College District, Michelson was added to the Valley staff when Richard Clement, a full-time instructor, agreed to oversee the program, Stark said. Clement acted in the same role last year for Virgil Watson, who coached the Valley men's team as a part-time employee.
Michelson will have full on-court control over the Valley women's team. He will be assisted by Joe Jackson, who served under Jim Stephens last season. Stephens stepped down at the end of the season, his fourth with the women's team, to coach the Valley men's team.
Michelson said he will remain at Hart as a physical education teacher but is unsure whether he will continue as its girls athletic director.
Strauss decided in March not to rehire Michelson after reviewing written statements from eight witnesses of a postgame fight between Michelson and referee Bob Bria on Feb. 12. Several witnesses with ties to Hart subsequently expressed outrage, saying that Bria had provoked the altercation and that Michelson was acting in self-defense.
"This is quite a refreshing change for me," Michelson said of his new position. Michelson added, however, that he would not have taken the Valley job if he could have remained at Hart, saying, "I was pretty well set here."