Deficit Forced Dennard Out at Fullerton

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Preston Dennard, who last week said he resigned his position as a Cal State Fullerton assistant football coach, now says he did not resign but was dismissed because of a staff cut caused by concerns over an athletic department deficit.

Dennard, a former Ram receiver, coached at Fullerton for one season. He lost his job when Coach Gene Murphy was told to reduce his staff to eight assistants, one below the NCAA standard for Division I programs, Dennard and other department sources said.

Dennard had the least seniority on Murphy's staff.

"I very much wanted to be there," said Dennard, who had said he resigned to pursue other opportunities. "Technically, what happened was I was informed that it was brought upon (Murphy's) shoulders to make a decision to remove one or more persons from his staff to add to cutting the budget. . . . I love Murphy dearly. It came down to business. I happened to be the last guy hired."

Murphy and Athletic Director Ed Carroll declined to comment.

The athletic department is operating with a deficit of $236,000, an athletic department source said.

More cuts are likely in what Carroll said in a department memo will be "a difficult spring" for the department, which operates 17 sports on a budget of $4.37 million.

In addition to the current deficit, Fullerton must deal with the budgetary implications of a recent study that showed that the university must allocate an additional $145,000 to women's programs to come into compliance with Title IX, the federal law that requires women's sports to be funded proportionally to men's.

Dennard, 34, said he is pursuing work in the broadcasting field and possibly in coaching.

"I was definitely enjoying coaching," he said. "I did not resign."

With Dennard's departure and the resignation of Ed Donatell, who is leaving to become an assistant coach with the New York Jets, Murphy has seven assistants on his staff.

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