Simi Valley Reinstates Scyphers : Baseball: Embattled coach is granted conditional approval to return, ending 2 1/2-month battle with school district.


Mike Scyphers gained unanimous school board approval Thursday to return as baseball coach at Simi Valley High next season, ending 73 days of controversy surrounding the successful and often fiery coach.

The five members of the Simi Valley Unified School District board, who voted following a 75-minute hearing with Scyphers, approved his rehiring after he agreed to one year of probation, during which he must abide by 10 stipulations regulating his conduct.

Neither Scyphers nor district representatives would release the entire list of stipulations. However, Scyphers said a traditional team disciplinary practice called “the block,” in which players bid small amounts of money for the right to paddle teammates who violated rules, has been prohibited. The practice, which Scyphers has used since 1980, violated the state education code.


“They are actually stipulations that all coaches should abide by,” Scyphers said. “We are all under the same guidelines. Mine just happen to be put in writing. It’s nothing different than any other coach at our school has to go through. . . ..

“I’m just going to go about my business as I always have, minus ‘the block,’ I suppose.”

Scyphers, 41, also may not leave campus during school hours, a disciplinary action suggested by Principal Kathryn Scroggin. Scyphers was able to convince board members to reject one of Scroggin’s measures, that he supply the school with a schedule of the college basketball games he officiates in his spare time.

Scyphers, wearing a gray, double-breasted suit, emerged from the hearing at the district office with his wife, Sally, and Sue Norman, grievance chairwoman of the Simi Educators Assn., a teachers’ union. As the board voted inside, Scyphers spoke to a group of reporters, joking at times.

Assistant Supt. Leon Mattingley emerged from the conference room and announced, with Scyphers at his side, that the board had approved the coach’s rehiring and that Scyphers had until July 25 to accept the position.

Scyphers hedged for a few minutes, saying he had “to take a walk with my wife and talk about it,” but then said he would accept the position.

Scyphers, who has led the Pioneers to national prominence during his 16 years as coach, will be officially confirmed at the next open board meeting on July 26.


“It was a decision that was reached after a full and complete dialogue,” Mattingley said. “The board’s concerns and Mr. Scyphers’ concerns were discussed.”

Scyphers, who characterized the hearing as calm and orderly, said his concerns centered on the stipulations, which were examined by his attorney beforehand.

“We hashed out the 10 stipulations set forth,” Scyphers said. “I had some questions regarding each and every one of them, and we seemed to (reach) agreement on them.”

He added: “There was a lot of gray area, and I wanted to hash out the gray area.”

Scyphers, who claimed he lost 15 pounds and had trouble sleeping during the 2 1/2-month ordeal, said he is still bitter about the turn of events, despite his reinstatement.

“They think everything is peachy keen,” Scyphers said. “We need to move on, yes, but sometimes it’s not that easy to put things behind you.”

Scyphers was suspended as coach May 3, after police and the school district began investigating allegations of financial and disciplinary improprieties.


Besides “the block,” Scyphers admitted to improperly accepting three payments, totaling $2,000, from an adult baseball organization for the use of the Simi Valley High field, violating district policy. Scyphers used part of the money to pay his assistants without the knowledge of the district, a Southern Section violation.

Scyphers was cleared by the Ventura County district attorney of criminal wrongdoing on June 8. His coaching suspension was lifted the following day. However, because all coaches in the district are on one-year contracts, Scyphers needed approval to return.

First baseman Jeff Michael, who will be a senior, said players were never certain that the board would approve Scyphers’ return.

“We were pretty concerned,” he said. “We were just hoping the board members would see it as it is and have him back.”

Jay Kavanagh, the father of catcher Brian Kavanagh, said he is glad Scyphers would be back for his son’s senior year.

“I’m happy it’s over and now we can get back to baseball,” he said. “Now the boys that are still on the team can get together and get on with things.


“My son enjoys playing for him and he respects him, and I guess that’s all that matters.”