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Jury awards ex-Bakersfield College coach nearly $13K

Long-time Bakersfield College wrestling coach Bill Kalivas -- who filed a civil lawsuit against the California junior college after his contract was not reviewed in 2014 -- was awarded nearly $13,000 by a Kern County jury Monday.

Bill Kalivas
Kalivas, 63, who had coached at Bakersfield from 1987-2014, was awarded $11,943.75 in damages for economic loss, plus another $1,000 for non-economic loss including emotional distress/mental suffering.

Kalivas told the Bakersfield Californian that he had asked for $400,000 in damages, and that the Kern Community College District which oversees operations of Bakersfield College had offered $15,000 to settle prior to the trial.

Kalivas had filed his suit in December 2014, naming the KCCD and three of its administrators: athletic director Sandi Taylor; Zav Dadabhoy, BC's vice president of student services who oversaw athletics at the time; and Ibrahim "Abe" Ali, who was vice chancellor for human resources for the KCCD.

The situation that resulted in Kalivas' lawsuit stemmed from a June 2014 email that expressed concern for the health of his wrestlers and the coaching staff because of unsanitary mat conditions. In the email Kalivas expressed concern that the college was opening itself up to possible litigation because of the unsanitary conditions.

The ABC-TV affiliate in Bakersfield reported that the lawsuit stated mold was growing on the bottom of the mats, and that students and staff were suffering serious infections like MRSA.

"We used to have skin problems, people would break out with ringworm and staph," Joe Eperjo, assistant wrestling coach, told the station.

One month after informing administrators of his concerns, Kalivas' one-year contract was not renewed, and he was told that a new wrestling coach would be hired. In addition, he lost his job as a PE instructor, and was told not to volunteer to continue coaching the school's golf team, which he had coached since 2009.

At the time of his non-renewal, Kalivas was adjunct faculty (part-time and non-tenured), which is often referred to as an "at will" employee hired on a year-to-year basis. He had a full-time job was with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office until his retirement in 2014.

In his 27 seasons as Bakersfield College wrestling coach, Kalivas compiled a 208-72-2 overall record. His teams won California state team titles in 2002 and 2003, and just missed a three-peat by a half-point in 2004.

Both sides said an appeal is possible.

Founded in 1913, Bakersfield College describes itself as being "one of the nation's oldest continually-operating community colleges." The two-year college serves 15,000 students on three separate campuses in the Bakersfield area. Its sports teams -- the Renegades -- compete against other community colleges in California.

Bakersfield College is a not affiliated with Cal State Bakersfield, a four-year university officially named California State University-Bakersfield (CSUB), which is also located in the city of Bakersfield. Cal State Bakersfield's wrestling program and other sports teams are the Roadrunners, which compete in NCAA Division I. Stephen Neal, two-time NCAA heavyweight champ, 1999 World freestyle gold medalist, and retired right guard for the NFL New England Patriots, wrestled for the CSUB Roadrunners in the 1990s.

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conquistadors (1) about 2 years ago
This seems to prove the old adage "No good deed will go unpunished." It looks like Coach Kalivas performed many good deeds and was looking out for the health of his wrestlers.

Sometimes it seems that there is no limit to the pettiness of administrators, both in public institutions as well as in private industry.

Best of luck to Coach Kalivas. Enjoy retirement!