By Erik Luna
Former head coach of Huskies football Lynn Cain was fired from his position on Jan. 30, after leading the Huskies to win the American Championship Bowl game last season.
A Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees member, Kelly Candaele, held a forum on Feb. 16 at the auditorium foyer so people from the community, as well as the school, could voice their opinion regarding Cain’s firing and the direction of the football program.
One of the first people to speak was California Assemblymember Gil Cedillo, who is a childhood friend of Cain, said, “This has nothing to do with friendship. This has to do with correcting an incredible wrong and an incredible injustice.”
Cedillo said that he was familiar with controversial terminations because he spent approximately six years as a union employee, where his job was to return wrongfully terminated workers back to their jobs.Several people brought it to the attention of Candaele that one of the reasons Cain was fired was because he had failed to pay a coach’s fee.
“That fee was continuously paid by our athletic department. In fact I can quote the athletic director who said ‘never in the history of East L.A. has a fee never been paid’,” Rosa Cantu, who is a volunteer at ELAC and is the mother of current Husky quarterback Aaron Cantu, said. She said that this was wrong because it was never Cain’s duty to pay these fees.
She also said that Cain never knew about the fee and if someone would have notified him that it was his responsibility to pay it this year, he would have gladly paid it.
One of the big issue that Cain’s wife, Lisa Cain, had was that Cain didn’t have a chance to celebrate the Huskies’ championship bowl game victory with his team. Additionally, a fight broke-out after the 42-28 win with the Corsairs, ruining the festivities.
Lisa Cain displayed a picture of a ring, that an acquaintance of Cain was going to produce. Each player was to receive a ring had her husband not been fired. “Who wants to give to a program that lacks integrity and things of that nature,” said Lisa Cain.
The ring, which had the school’s name and colors, had the score and date of the game engraved on it and would have featured the players’ individual names.
Lisa Cain also said that multiple players wanted to speak out against the athletic department but were scared about how they might be treated afterward. She also said that students athletes couldn’t leave ELAC because it was the start of a new semester and it would be against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules.
Retired Oakland Raider offensive tackle Shelby Jordan read three letters addressed to Al Cone, ELAC athletic director.
Jordan said that he had not been aware of the coaching situation at ELAC, he was asked to go speak to the football players at the bowl game to give them a boost of confidence.
“Upon being hired, it was immediately brought to my attention that I was not the first, nor the second choice for this position in respects to the opinion of the athletic director,” Jordan said while reading a letter Cain had written.
One of the letters stated that Cone gave Cain a letter with guidelines on what to change for the upcoming season. “Why would the athletic director give Cain this letter with guidelines on what to change, if he was just planning to fire him?” asked Jordan.
Albert Chavez, a former coach of Cain, went up to the podium and asked a question, “What are we teaching our kids?” Chavez, who is the grandfather of Cantu, recalled hearing that Cain was going to get fired late last year.
“Neighbors would come by and they told me that the administration here had an idea that they were going to fire Cain and appoint two people. What kind of character are we teaching?” Chavez asked.
Lisa Cain stated that throughout the four years Cain was a coach at ELAC, it seemed as the environment tended to be hostile. “We couldn’t get air in the summer and we couldn’t get heat in the winter,” said Lisa Cain.
She went on to say that Cone once admitted to her that he knew nothing about football, so why Cone was taking so much interest in the football program was beyond her. “Cone is not even here and my tax dollar is still paying his paycheck and I’m really pissed off about that,” said Lisa Cain.
Cain went up to the podium and reminisced on his experience at ELAC as a teacher and as a coach. He spoke about how he was not paid for certain classes he taught at ELAC. “I wouldn’t get paid for certain things I would do. No one would pay me for driving to Long Beach and meeting with players. I wouldn’t get paid for that,” Cain said.
Cain also discussed how frustrating it was to pick his coaches. “If I hired somebody, I had to bring it to the athletic director. If he approved it, they’d be hired. If he didn’t, we didn’t hired. I was always being looked at and I never had the opportunity to freely pick my coaches,” Cain said.
Former coach for the Huskies Al Padilla also spoke. “Mr. Cone had not talked to anybody that he received, at the end of the season, a letter signed by a number of the assistant coaches telling him to fire Cain,” Padilla said. “Despite that, a true test of his leadership, he went on to manage a successful team.”
“We did what was in the best interest of the student athlete,” Cone said. He didn’t want to comment any further on the matter. Candaele said he would bring the information discussed to the other board members and would try to have more information in two weeks. Mrs. Cain said as she stared at her husband, “I don’t think he would come back to ELAC until there has been a change in the athletic department staff.”