Father Turns Over Tape of Coach's Call About His Sons

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The father of a high school baseball player says he taped a phone conversation in which Simi Valley High Coach Mike Scyphers allegedly tried to convince him to send two of his sons to Simi Valley instead of Royal High.

Ray Rainer also alleged that Scyphers spoke directly with one of his sons the night before school started and encouraged him to enroll at Simi Valley.

Scyphers, who was cleared of unrelated alleged financial and disciplinary improprieties last summer, said he would have no comment on the new allegations until he discusses them with Simi Valley Principal Kathryn Scroggin.

The Southern Section announced last week that the Simi Valley baseball program is under investigation for alleged violations of undue-influence rules, which are intended to prevent coaches from pressuring athletes into choosing schools.

The case involves Mike Rainer, a sophomore pitcher now enrolled at Royal, Simi Valley's cross-town rival.

Ray Rainer has provided the tape--as well as written statements from Mike Rainer and his mother--to Royal officials, who passed the information on to the Southern Section.

Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley said Monday he has heard the tape and turned it over to Scroggin, who said she is investigating the matter. Crowley said he expected Scroggin's investigation to conclude by the middle of this week and his office would make a ruling sometime next week.

Rainer told The Times about two phone calls allegedly made by Scyphers. Rainer said he taped a conversation Sept. 5, 1994, in which Scyphers encouraged him to enroll his twin sons, Mike and Matt, at Simi Valley.

Although the twins played for the Simi Valley sophomore baseball team as junior high ninth-graders last spring, both were enrolled at Royal at the time of the Sept. 5 conversation, Rainer said.

Rainer said he did not tell Scyphers the conversation was being recorded.

"I've heard a lot of people get torn apart for making different comments," Rainer said, "and I just wanted a record of my comments of why I wanted my boys to play at Royal."

The second conversation, Rainer said, took place when Scyphers phoned Mike Rainer at the player's mother's house on Sept. 6 and encouraged him to enroll at Simi Valley. Mike Rainer enrolled at Simi Valley on Sept. 7, the first day of school, his father said. He transferred back to Royal in December to be with his brothers, Matt and Raymond.

Mike Rainer could not be reached for comment. According to Ray Rainer, the statement submitted by Mike outlines the Sept. 6 conversation.

The case became an issue this month when Mike Rainer sought immediate varsity eligibility at Royal. Athletes who transfer without moving need hardship waivers from their previous school and the Southern Section to gain immediate eligibility.

In the process of the waiver request, Rainer approached Royal officials with the information about Scyphers' alleged phone calls in the fall.

"They said, 'That's just your word against his,' and I said, 'No, it's not. I have a tape,' " Rainer said.

Rainer said the taped conversation is more than 30 minutes long, and it includes Scyphers encouraging him to send Matt and Mike to Simi Valley instead of Royal. An official at Royal confirmed this.

Rainer, who is separated from the boys' mother, said he wanted his sons to play at the same school so he could watch them both.

"(Scyphers) asked me if there was anything (he) could do to get me to change my mind," Ray Rainer said, "and I said no."

Crowley, the Southern Section commissioner, would not comment on what the penalties for such a violation might be. But courts have ruled that the Southern Section has no jurisdiction over individuals, just programs. The section could place the Simi Valley program on probation or ban it from the playoffs, but any sanctions against Scyphers would have to come from the school.

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