Resignations Latest Blow at Van Nuys


Steve Kalan, athletic director at Van Nuys High, and girls' basketball Coach Dave Bessler resigned Thursday, Principal Russ Thompson said, two weeks after the school was reprimanded for multiple rules violations.

"Both individuals felt they should resign their positions," said Thompson, who would not say if he asked for the resignations.

The resignations ended a tumultuous month for Van Nuys, which has taken measures to clean up the image of its athletic program.

On Dec. 3, the City Section Rules Committee banned the Van Nuys girls' volleyball team from the playoffs this season and next, and placed the program on probation through 1999 because it used an ineligible player in the playoffs.

Two assistants, Tuong Nguyen in girls' volleyball and Raul Paredes in boys' soccer, were banned by the Rules Committee from coaching at Van Nuys.

Paredes was dismissed because he conducted illegal off-campus practices before the season.

At the center of the controversies, however, was the infraction of the girls' volleyball team.

Van Nuys, the top-seeded team in the 4-A Division, was ousted from the playoffs after it was discovered that Sharon Foster, one of the Wolves' top players, did not meet transfer requirements when she left Village Christian for Van Nuys.

In the aftermath, Bessler blamed Kalan for giving him misinformation on the transfer of Foster, who left her parents' house and moved in with her aunt in Van Nuys.

Kalan twice investigated Foster's eligibility through computer records and deemed her eligible to compete. She was not.

Meanwhile, Bessler seemed to have the support of the administration at Van Nuys.

Three weeks ago, Jack Molina, the assistant principal in charge of athletics, said: "I'm 150% behind Dave Bessler. He did not knowingly violate the rules. I think his ethics are very high. . . . He's simply misunderstood."

Thompson met separately with Bessler and Kalan this week, but would not elaborate on details of the conversations.

"Mr. Kalan and I had a discussion about the athletic program here, and his decision was to resign," Thompson said.

Kalan will remain athletic director through the semester, which ends Feb. 3. He will continue to teach economics and government, and coach the boys' and girls' swimming teams.

Bessler will continue to teach mathematics.

Thompson will begin the process of selecting a new athletic director and girls' volleyball coach in January.

Since the probation, Thompson has taken an active role in getting the athletic department back on track. He has met with the entire athletic staff at least once, instructed each coach and athletic administrator to read the Rules and Regulations of the City Section, and required each coach to spend one practice session discussing rules with athletes.

"We are going to continue to make every effort to have the best possible athletics and academics here at the school," Thompson said.

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