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Greer Says He ‘Sticks By’ Boycott : Valley Foursome Embroiled in Crisis at San Jose State

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

A day after asking himself “should I stay or should I go,” Damon Greer offered no apologies for taking part in a San Jose State player boycott of a Big West Conference game at Cal State Fullerton on Thursday night.

Greer, a freshman point guard and 1988 graduate of Cleveland High, is one of 10 players who left the team Wednesday after complaining of harsh treatment and negativity surrounding the program of Coach Bill Berry.

Redshirt freshman Sean Davis, a 1987 graduate of El Camino Real, also joined the walkout. Kevin Logan, a non-scholarship player and a 1988 graduate of Westlake High, and starting center Jan Svoboda of Glendale, a senior, decided to remain with the team. San Jose State lost to Fullerton, 82-60, the Spartans’ sixth loss in a row.

Greer said that past player complaints to administrators had fallen on deaf ears and that previous attempts to foster a better player-coach relationship were unsuccessful.

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“We’re the first group to stand up to him,” said Greer, a reserve who has played in 11 games for the 5-12 team. “I’ve talked to other players who wanted to but didn’t make the move. We did and we stick by it.”

The boycotters left school--which is on a semester break--Thursday and spent the day discussing their plans with a San Francisco attorney, Paul Menzoni of the Melvin Belli law firm. Greer said that the players who left will not return long as Berry remains.

“Everybody has their own coaching style,” Greer said. “We’re sick of the way he comes down on us. Our confidence is totally shot.

“We’re supposed to enjoy this. Everybody here comes from a good program--I came from Cleveland--we all know what it takes to win, the sacrifices you need to make. We know what hard work is, but we don’t need this.”

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Several boycotting players said in a press conference Wednesday that Berry’s verbal tirades and negative reinforcement made practices unbearable.

“Sometimes you just need a pat on the back,” Greer said. “When it’s all negative, negative, negative, negative, you start to believe it, that you can’t do it, that there’s something wrong with you.”

Greer said that the group had not spoken with school administrators since Wednesday and had no idea whether their scholarships are at stake. Sports information director Lawrence Fan said that all 10 players boycotting the team are on scholarship. The boycotting players’ athletic scholarship status may be determined in the next week, university spokeswoman Karen Rosenzweig said.

Berry on Thursday blamed the frustration of losing close games and faulty guidance for the players’ problems.

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“They got some bad advice from the people they listened to,” Berry told the Associated Press. “The negative was really something they cling to.”

The relationship between Berry and the team broke down when all 14 members met with the coach Tuesday afternoon to air their grievances. The following day, Greer said, some players reneged on their promise not to play, including Logan and Svoboda.

“That’s something that just sort of happened,” Greer said. “We all looked at it very carefully and went in as a team. Everybody was together and then the four that are down (in Fullerton) now just sort of trickled off in their own direction after speaking with the coach.”

Logan and Svoboda joined Dwain Daniels and Tom Desiano as players who did not go along with the boycott.

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Athletic Director Randy Hoffman said that Berry would not be fired based on player complaints and would remain until the end of the season. Hoffman said in a press release that it was not the university’s policy to dismiss coaches during the season.

Berry said that he would continue the season despite the player walkout.

Greer indicated that none of the boycotting players have contacted others schools about transferring and added that the players would meet today to discuss their options.


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