Airey Leaves Loyola, Enrolls at Irvine Valley

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Tom Airey said Tuesday that he has left the Loyola Marymount basketball team and enrolled at Irvine Valley College.

Airey, a former standout at Capistrano Valley High School, said he was burned out and miserable.

“I absolutely hated basketball, period,” Airey said. “I was miserable every time I stepped on the court. The workouts were hard and the atmosphere was really negative.”


Airey, a freshman, was in only one game for the Lions this season. He played two minutes against Michigan State with no points, rebounds or assists.

But Airey said he was not upset about his lack of playing time, but rather the conditions he endured under Coach John Olive. Airey said the practices were long and, sometimes, unreasonable.

“We would get off the plane from a trip and go straight to the gym for practice,” Airey said. “I was burned out on the whole situation.”

Olive declined to comment.

In a release from the school, Olive said: “Tom came into my office and expressed doubts about his basketball future here. He said he had made up his mind to leave and seemed quite sure about his decision. It really surprised our whole coaching staff as well as members of the team.”

Airey will sit out this season and will have four years of eligibility remaining.

At Irvine Valley, he will be reunited with freshmen Aaron Rhoades and Steve Ransom, both former Capistrano Valley players. Brian Mulligan, a former Cougar assistant coach, is now an assistant for his father, Bill Mulligan, at Irvine Valley.

“I have high respect for both the coaches,” Airey said. “I know I’ll have fun there and maybe find my love for the game.”


Last season, Airey helped Capistrano Valley win the Southern Section I-AA championship. He was the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14 points, and was named first-team All-Orange County.

Airey ranks third on the Southern Section’s all-time list for three-point field goals with 276. He made 129 last season, second-most in section history.

His season came to an abrupt end when he broke an ankle in the I-AA title game against Lynwood. Airey missed all three of the Cougars’ State regional games.