Bill Kalivas, a former wrestling and golf coach at Bakersfield College, said he is happy to be exonerated following the verdict two weeks ago of a civil lawsuit he filed in 2014 after being told he would not be retained as a coach.
Kalivas, who was also a professor at BC for 27 years, said that he contacted administration to voice his concerns over the safety of the wrestling equipment.
“I had concerns and complained about health and safety issues with the wrestling program, and the college immediately began formulating emails between three individuals where it was decided to terminate my employment.
“I not only lost my job as a wrestling coach, but also as a golf coach and instructor,” Kalivas said.
Kalivas claims that while administration tried to portray him as a disruptive employee, it was simply not true.
“If I was this hostile and disruptive and disrespectful, it took them 27 years to figure it out? How do all of a sudden I become this disgruntled employee in less than a year?”
Kalivas sued for $400,000 in damages, but he was awarded only $13,000 by the court.
Kalivas said the case was not about the money to him though.
“I think there’s a lot of people trying to make it sound like this was about money, but it really wasn’t.
“It was about that I was concerned, not only for my own health and safety, but other people’s.
“That’s my responsibility, that’s the district’s responsibility, that is in our code of ethics as coaches.
“So for the most part, the bigger issue was that I felt that I was vindicated. The disappointment behind the verdict, which all went in my favor, was that no one was held accountable for their manufacturing of misinformation, of not telling the truth, of perjuring themselves, changing their testimony and trying to deviate from health and safety to trying to portray me as this disruptive employee who had my own agenda, which was not true,” he said.
According to Kalivas, he had no idea his emails to administration regarding his concerns over health and safety would lead to him being terminated in June 2014.
“Well, I think it came up in the trial, there was one meeting with Dr. Dabahoy that was early in November, there were probably only two other meetings with athletic director [Sandi] Taylor that had to do with internal things. But once I sent my email off after they had put everything on hold, the wheels started to turn to terminate me within a matter of less than a month. There was no communication, nothing other than a letter of termination from athletic director Taylor and some emails from the vice president calling me a temper tantrum, politically mongering, openly hostile employee and it kind of caught me off guard. I didn’t know I was that bad,” Kalivas said.
The lack of health and safety measures in the athletic department was another issue Kalivas said was a major concern of his.
“I don’t necessarily think it had to be the new mats, the problem was there were no health and safety measures, no protocols in place for cleaning. It was a revolving door with maintenance and operations. The complex itself is a huge complex, the athletic department, and to have only one person responsible for the custodial effects of it, it can’t be done, it’s not humanly possible.
“So you’d think that would be an area where you’d want to have things that show there’s care for the facility,” he said.
Kalivas believes the lack of communication from administration affected how he dealt with student-athletes before his termination, leaving the door open for BC to say they wanted to go in a new direction.
“It comes down to communication. After all, it’s affecting how I deal with incoming student-athletes. You talk about wanting to develop a more prolific program, well, when you don’t have dedicated things in place it’s difficult to bring athletes in and go ‘well this is our facility, it’s not the greatest in the world, there’s a lot of safety measures that haven’t been put in place and we don’t really have a true locker room but we want you to come to school here anyway,’ I think it’s difficult when athletes come here and look around and see a football field house and stadium, how the basketball and baseball team look, and you come in and go ‘wow, this is not really well done.’ So I think that’s an issue right there.”
Though Kalivas said he harbors no animosity toward BC or administration, he believes the whole situation could have been avoided if administration would have been more open. “Simply coming to me and addressing my concerns instead of going and creating these emails and discussing my termination [would have helped].
“I mean it went from health and safety, to I was this disgruntled employee, this hostile employee who, you know, we need to get rid of this person.”
When asked if he thinks he will ever coach wrestling again, Kalivas said he was unsure. He claims he still loves the sport, but there are only two college wrestling coach positions in the area and both are filled.
He said he could one day return to BC, or any other school that offers him a wrestling job.
As for his plans right now, Kalivas said he is going to take some time off, spend it with his family, and enjoy the holidays.
The Rip contacted Sandi Taylor, athletic director at BC, who referred us to Chris Hine, KCCD General Counsel.
The Rip attempted to contact Hine, and Arnold Anchordoquy, a lawyer from the local law firm Clifford and Brown, who represented the KCCD in court. The Rip has not received a comment from either as of this publication.