'Abusive' tirade led to coach's firing

February 16, 1993|By Jake Curtis | Jake Curtis,San Francisco Chronicle

University of California athletic director Bob Bockrath said he would not have fired Lou Campanelli last week had he not accidentally heard what Campanelli told his players following the Bears' Feb. 4 loss at Arizona State.

"What I heard was not acceptable," Bockrath said Sunday night. "It was profane and abusive. If I told you, you couldn't print it. I know coaches swear. I can swear with any of them. This was different."

Asked if it was the personal nature of Campanelli's words that irked him, Bockrath said, "That's exactly what I mean."

VTC Bockrath said he heard Campanelli's tirade by accident, having stepped into a room that happened to have only a partition separating it from the Cal locker room at ASU.

"It affected me a lot because I had heard how things were, but I had never heard it firsthand before," said Bockrath.

Bockrath also heard Campanelli's speech following the Arizona game, which again bothered Bockrath, and those incidents cemented his feelings.

"If it hadn't been for that [ASU tirade], I'm almost sure I wouldn't have [fired Campanelli]," he said.

Bockrath said he made the decision on his own, independent of the players' feelings. In fact, Bockrath said he told vice chancellor Dan Boggan of his decision to recommend Campanelli's firing at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, four hours before captain Brian Hendrick called Bockrath to say he wanted to set up a meeting with the players.

"I didn't even know the players had had a meeting [Feb. 7]," said Bockrath.

A 1:30 p.m. Monday meeting was then held with Bockrath, Boggan and all the players, except for freshmen Jason Kidd and Jerod Haase. But none of the players present was told the decision to fire Campanelli had been made.

"And they never said, 'If you don't make a change, we'll transfer or boycott or anything.' They left without knowing anything about my recommendation [to fire Campanelli]. It just affirmed my own feelings."

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