By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
Muir High School’s boys basketball coach Gamal Smalley announced his resignation following a three-week administrative leave, the Star-News learned Wednesday.
Smalley sent a letter of resignation to the Pasadena Unified School District last week. The administrative leave placed Smalley under strict orders to have no contact with players or their parents.
The move comes amid a scandal surrounding the program having to forfeit 20 wins. It disqualified the Mustangs from the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA playoffs as well as negating a Pacific League championship. An independent investigation also led to the suspension of Muir athletic director Robert Galvan. It coincides with the planned replacement of Muir Principal Sheryl Orange next year.
Muir was in hot water after it was discovered that a valid change of address could not be provided for Muir forward Andre Frazier, who previously attended Bell-Jeff, University of Los Angeles and Fairfax. He’s since transferred back to Fairfax. A clerical error led to the discovery, and upon making a frantic effort to prove a change of address, Muir also missed the deadline to apply for an at-large playoff berth, which was denied by the CIF-SS.
Smalley compiled a 76-30 record in three seasons as coach, leading the Mustangs to a Division 5AA finals run last year. Muir was the only public school listed in the final Division 4AA top 10 poll this season, was 24-2 at season’s end, ranked in the top 50 and poised to make a run in the so-called “Super Division.”
Smalley, who previously coached at Blair, leaves a program poised to make a good run next season with the return of 6-foot-4 junor wing/forward Jelani Mitchell.
Smalley, an Altadena resident, said Muir has made a lot of progress over the last three years. But the scandal bore a heavy personal burden.
“It’s a very personal and hurtful situation,” he said. “Because I have a lot of roots at Muir. We had three children graduate from Muir, myself and my wife. I’m very sad in the way it ended.”
Smalley sent an e-mail to the parents of returning players to inform them of his decision.
“I know a lot of parents were frustrated after the forfeitures and it’s understandibly so,” Smalley said. “The parents felt they wanted to go in another direction, and I certainly understand that. I hope that they understand I gave the very best I can. I’m hurting with them, too.”
Smalley has been in talks with the independent investigator hired by the district, and he is expected to meet with the investigator again next week.
“I’m hoping I can make a difference so this does not happen again.”