Column – Luring top prospects comes at a price

Victor Bryant

A string of recruiting violations at California Community Colleges serve as a reminder to coaches of the consequences they could face when they routinely operate in gray areas.

The foundation of any successful athletic program is talented players, and at the community-college level, attracting marquee athletes can be tough. According to the California Community College Athletic Association, coaches are restricted from making initial contact with any player outside of their designated recruiting area.

This year’s football team finally came through with a successful season, after years of ineptitude by earning a co-championship in the American Pacific Conference.

A large number of Los Angeles area athletes that were brought in by head football coach Craig Moropoulos and staff significantly upgraded the team’s talent level.

City College’s recruiting area was originally relatively small consisting of Bishop Diego, Carpinteria, Cate, Dos Pueblos, Laguna Blanca, San Marcos and Santa Barbara high school, but 11 years ago the college’s recruiting area was broadened to include nearly 80 high schools in the Los Angeles area.

This added recruiting base was never fully utilized until this past year when City College’s football program aggressively recruited the area, which eventually led to allegations of illegal recruiting practices.

These allegations include coaches sending and receiving apartment applications for student prospects, filling out financial aid paperwork without parental permission and housing multiple athletes who paid their coaches their rent in cash. Providing any manner of service or financial assistance to prospects or student athletes that is not available to all other students violates the California Community College Athletic Association bylaws.

Similar recruiting violations allegations have been brought forth at both Ventura College and Los Medanos College, in which out-of-state athletes were misrepresented as in-state athletes so that their cost of tuition would be lowered.

The common trend in all of these alleged recruiting violations stem from the financial difficulties that face community college athletes.

Community colleges cannot provide scholarships to athletes and it’s difficult for student-athletes to maintain jobs considering the amount of time they spend with their sport.

City College’s football and men’s basketball programs have historically lacked the depth of talented players necessary to consistently compete for conference championships, primarily because the Santa Barbara area does not produce a large number of high level athletes.

The progress that the football program made could be totally wiped out if the recruiting allegations are found to be true.
The goal of most community college athletes is to play at a four-year university. The school that gives them the best opportunity to achieve this goal will receive their services as an athlete.

Despite the recruiting allegations, City College must continue to recruit in the Los Angeles area if they hope to be successful in sports in which the Santa Barbara talent pool just isn’t enough.
City College can be competitive in any sport as long as coaches stay out of the gray areas.