Redshirt Logan Pragmatic in Decision Not to Boycott

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Kevin Logan hopes that when he returns to his San Jose State dorm tonight, his estranged teammates can sympathize. Like an employee who crossed the picket line during a strike, Logan is banking on a little understanding.

He is not necessarily expecting it.

“I just hope it can be normal again,” Logan said. “I have no bad feelings toward them, and I hope they have none toward me. It was their choice--and they chose their consequences.”

Logan, a 1988 graduate of Westlake High, was 1 of 4 players on the San Jose State basketball team who decided not to participate in a player walkout last week. Ten of Logan’s teammates, citing what they said was the increasingly abrasive behavior of Coach Bill Berry, announced a boycott of all future games unless Berry is removed from his duties as coach.


Logan and 3 teammates, including roommates Dwain Daniels and Tom Desiano--both juniors--pulled an about-face Tuesday after a meeting with Berry in which the walkout was announced. The full roster of 14 players had entered a verbal agreement to stick together, Logan said, but after some soul searching, the 6-foot, 6 1/2-inch freshman decided to remain with the team. San Jose State, using several players from the school’s football team, fell to Cal State Fullerton, 82-60, Friday, its sixth consecutive loss.

Logan says he believes that the boycotting players are standing on firm ground regarding Berry’s gruff behavior and that he agrees in principle with the grievances of the 10 who left. It was their method of protest--walking away for the rest of the season--he said, that was unacceptable.

“Their complaints are true,” Logan said. “I think they’ve just blown it out of proportion.”

Said Dave Logan, Kevin’s father: “What (the 10 who left) are saying definitely has merit. The way they went about changing things was foolish, though. If they had gone through the proper channels, they wouldn’t have destroyed themselves. They wouldn’t have destroyed the coach.”

Logan was redshirting and agreed that Berry probably didn’t demand as much from him in practice as from other players. “I probably wasn’t quite as pressured,” he said.

Kevin Logan added, however, that Berry’s practices often became unbearable for many players. Sean Davis, a sophomore and a 1987 graduate of El Camino Real High, said Friday that he was “even scared about shooting and scared to dribble the ball.” Damon Greer, a freshman point guard from Cleveland High who also joined the walkout, said that the team’s “confidence is totally shot.”

Logan said he reasoned that Berry’s behavior was like that of most coaches and that sticking with the program through the lean times was all part of fulfilling his obligations as a student on athletic scholarship.

“He’s my first college coach,” Logan said. “I pretty much thought, ‘This is the way it is,’ since I had nothing to compare him to. It got pretty bad at times, but I accepted it as part of being a college basketball player.”

Logan said that other players were simply unable to put Berry’s criticism aside.

“I think it’s just his way of coaching,” he said. “When he’d scream at me, I’d think about what he said, what he wanted from me. But I wouldn’t carry it around with me. It’s the only way to deal with that kind of criticism.”

Logan said no single incident triggered the walkout and that he believes player frustration is probably the motive for the boycott. San Jose State is 5-12 and 1-7 in Big West Conference play.

“The big thing is that we were just losing,” Logan said. “Everyone was upset and depressed. If we’d been 15-2, you can bet this never would have happened.”

Logan said that Daniels and Desiano decided to remain in the program because they felt interest from other Division I schools would be nonexistent if they tried to transfer since they each have only 1 year of eligibility remaining. Logan said senior center-forward Jan Svoboda, a Glendale High graduate and the only starter to remain with the team, told Logan that he decided to stay because he wanted to finish his schoolwork and complete his senior season.

The 5 seniors who left the team will have no eligibility remaining unless they return, National Collegiate Athletic Assn. representative Rick Evrard said Friday. Evrard added that the magnitude of the boycott may be unmatched.

“Collectively, I’ve never seen or heard of a walkout similar to this,” said Evrard, a director of legislative services. “Individually it happens all the time, but not at this scale.”

Evrard said that players with eligibility remaining may transfer to another school and sit out a season to satisfy the NCAA residency requirement, then resume playing. If San Jose State chooses to revoke the scholarships of the boycotting players, it may not refill the scholarships until next season, Evrard said.

“They’re non-transferable,” Evrard said. “They’ll have to play with whoever they can find.”

The boycotting players have hired the firm of San Francisco lawyer Melvin Belli to represent them. Anassociate of Belli said Friday that the players will sue if their scholarships are revoked.

Dave Logan said that Berry and school athletic department officials indicated after the Fullerton game Friday that the scholarships of the boycotting players will be rescinded, perhaps before Thursday when the spring semester begins.

“They said the only guys they were even slightly interested in keeping were Greer and David Hollaway,” Dave Logan said. “The other guys are history. They said they don’t want them around anymore.”

Dave Logan said he believes that the walkout stemmed from Berry’s inability to coach players without using critical and disparaging remarks and that Berry’s old-school philosophy was difficult for players to relate to. The boycotting players equated Berry’s coaching style to “mental cruelty” and said that previous complaints to school administrators were ignored.

“I really feel sorry for Berry,” the elder Logan said. “He has the best interests of the kids at heart. In his own way he gives a lot, but the kids don’t see it.

“I think if he had a little better sense of humor, he might have gotten over the hump.”

Berry, in his 10th season, will remain as coach for the rest of the season, athletic department officials said last week.

The elder Logan, who before the walkout last week advised his son to “go along with whatever the rest of the team did,” said he nonetheless supports Kevin’s decision.

“It would have meant wasting a year of eligibility,” Dave Logan said. “It has become a meaningless season.”

Logan and his father met with Berry after the Fullerton game and decided that Kevin, who did not play in the Fullerton game, will continue to redshirt.