Bakersfield College officials are going to fight to get back the state football championship that was taken away last Tuesday.
The seven-member Kern Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously voted Monday afternoon to appeal sanctions levied on the football program by Southern California Football Association.
"On behalf of the board of trustees, let me say we are concerned about the severity of the sanctions that have wrongly punished students," said John Corkins of Porterville, the board of trustees president.
"This is an important step to bring action that we hope will reduce or remove the sanctions against the Bakersfield College football team," KCCD Chancellor Sandra Serrano said.
BC coach Jeff Chudy said: "I'm elated for our student athletes and community. I will tirelessly assist in the process in hopes of overturning these sanctions."
The SCFA announced last Tuesday that BC was to forfeit all wins from the 2011 and 2012 seasons because of six violations of California Community College Athletic Association rules.
That meant the 2011 and 2012 seasons became 0-10 years. And once the '12 season became 0-10, the CCCAA stripped BC of its state championship football title, stating a winless team would not have qualified for postseason play.
The SCFA also placed BC on probation for two years and ruled the Renegades would be ineligible for postseason play in 2013.
"We were hoping the board would take the action they did today," said BC President Sonya Christian. "I still maintain the SCFA's action was not appropriate against our student athletes."
BC has a deadline to start the appeal process: 10 business days from last Tuesday's SCFA announcement. That would put the deadline a day or two after next Monday's Memorial Day holiday.
"We will play it safe and make sure we have the appeal in on time," Christian said, adding that it should be filed by Friday. "We've already begun preparing the material."
BC officials and the trustees acknowledge violations occurred.
"These are minor infractions in our opinion that may occur across other colleges but apparently they're looking at us right now," Corkins said. "
"I'll let the community think about that and we think, absolutely, there were some infractions. But we have corrected them already. We will move forward to make sure there are no further infractions.
"Let the punishment fit the crime and let's not punish these young men who have done an outstanding job in this community."
According to the SCFA, the infractions were:
Paying students for work with funds provided by a non-affiliated booster club (BC's Helmet Club). The work was arranged outside the oversight of BC and was provided only to football players.
Housing BC football players from outside BC's permissible recruiting area facilitated (arranged) by BC staff.
Facilitating the payment of rent to the owner of the housing.
Implying the availability of housing and work to gain interest from players.
Providing a weekly meal to BC football players subsidized by boosters.
Providing pre-game dinners to football players before home games.
At issue for several of the violations was BC football players enjoying special treatment not offered to all students at BC.
SCFA Commissioner Jim Sartoris, who issued the penalties and sanctions, said: "Certainly it is their right to appeal. I have no problem with that. We followed all the proper procedures."
Sartoris said the appeal will be heard by the SCFA appeals board, which consists of five school presidents representing each of the five SCFA conferences.
There are five levels in the appeal process. If BC is not satisfied by a ruling from the SCFA appeals board, the next step would be an appeal to the CCCAA appeals board.
The CCCAA represents all community college athletics in the state.
Beyond that, an appeal would move to the full CCCAA. After that, to binding arbitration, the last step in the state appeals process.
But Corkins said BC is willing to take it farther if necessary and will explore legal options.
"Whatever additional actions, legal actions, that are appropriate," Corkins said. "We have told our people and our adminstration to exhaust the process so we are to take it to the last level. Our exploration of legal actions are ongoing."
No BC football players have been ruled ineligible by the SCFA.
"Our student athletes did nothing wrong," Corkins said. "We have met with those students -- we had the coaches do that -- and let them know they did nothing wrong."