Garvey Resigns From USD Board : Actions Weren't 'in Good Catholic Spirit,' Trustee Says

Times Staff Writer

Steve Garvey's stature within the Roman Catholic Church in San Diego took its first official fall with the announcement Thursday that the former San Diego Padre has resigned as a trustee of the University of San Diego.

No reason was given by either Garvey or the university for his resignation, but it came within days after Garvey publicly confessed that he may have fathered two children out of wedlock.

Garvey, 40, resigned from the 38-member board of trustees, which governs the private, Catholic university, during a retreat of board members last weekend at La Quinta.

The announcement, made in equally terse statements by both the university and Catholic Bishop Leo T. Maher, who also serves as chairman of USD's board of trustees, evaded the question of whether Garvey's resignation was sought or unsolicited.

Garvey could not be reached for comment. His office said he was out of town.

Maher said through his spokesman, Dan Pitre: "Steve Garvey did come for one session of the retreat. After speaking with me, Mr. Garvey did resign from the board of trustees."

Asked if the bishop would elaborate, Pitre quoted Maher as saying, "It would not be proper for me in my pastoral position to discuss Steve Garvey's personal situation publicly."

'University Is Grateful'

Author Hughes, president of USD, said in a prepared comment: "Bishop Leo T. Maher, chairman of the USD board of trustees, has received a letter of resignation from Steve Garvey as a member of the university's governing board. The university is grateful to Mr. Garvey for his four-year term of service on the board."

The university is technically independent of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, but it has strong links with the diocese, which had a role in its formation in 1972 and which has its diocesan offices on the campus.

Thursday's news was not surprising to some who had said Garvey was quickly losing esteem within the upper echelon of the Catholic Church for having caused it embarrassment.

USD Trustee George Pardee said Maher announced Garvey's resignation to other board members on Sunday morning. The news, he said, might not have surprised some trustees.

"His actions prior to the time he offered his resignation were not in the good Catholic spirit," Pardee said. "I won't say it was good for him that he resigned, but it certainly probably was good for the university."

Pardee said Garvey had not been a very active board member, but was nonetheless a valued trustee because of his connections.

"As an athlete, a respected member of the athletic community, he gave us an entree that we didn't have with other trustees," Pardee said. "His name, his meeting people, knowing people, gave us an entree to a different part of the community than other board members have."

Jeopardized Own Image

But Garvey seemed to have undermined, in the course of a few days, the very image USD needed of him in order to be an asset to the Catholic school:

- In an unusual series of public interviews last week, Garvey said that he had sex while he was single with two different women who became pregnant, and said that, if paternity tests show he is the father, "I will assume the moral and principal responsibility for the two children."

- Paternity issues notwithstanding, Garvey said he believed both women were using birth control--an admission that presumably caused cringing in the Catholic diocese office.

- He married 30-year-old Candace Thomas in a civil ceremony last month even though his marriage to his first wife, Cyndi, has not been annulled by the Catholic Church.

- Despite his admission that he had not yet even begun the difficult process of petitioning the church for an annulment, he nonetheless said publicly that he hoped he and Candace Thomas would have a Catholic marriage this summer at Mission San Diego de Alcala. "A church wedding is very important to us," he said last week.

Pardee said he didn't know whether Garvey was asked to resign by Maher.

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