Montclair Prep drops its athletic program
In a move that has stunned alumni and students, Van Nuys Montclair Prep announced on Monday that it is dropping its athletic program because of financial reasons.
School Director Mark Simpson said a letter has gone out to the more than 200 students remaining in the school in grades 7 through 12 about changes set for the 2011-12 school year.
"As a result of this economy and overwhelming requests for financial aid, we had to restructure," Simpson said.
Besides the sports program being eliminated, the school will also discontinue grades seven and eight and become a 9-12 school and no longer offer financial aid.
"We're going back to where we started, offering a college-prep minded program for serious students," Simpson said. "As time goes on, if we introduce sports back, it will happen over time."
The decision to drop sports allows a number of top athletes with high school eligibility remaining to become almost free agents. They can transfer to any school they want and become eligible immediately after receiving an automatic hardship waiver, according to CIF spokesman Thom Simmons.
No one will be in more demand than all-star senior pitcher Max Fried, who has committed to UCLA. Also baseball standouts Nick Suniga and Ben McKendall, both juniors, will be looking for schools.
"I really don't know much," Fried said. "It happened a few hours ago. I had no idea. It's tough for me. We're going to have to sit down as a family."
Among the Montclair Prep alumni are former major leaguers Torey Lovullo, Brad Fullmer and Russell Ortiz and former NFL player Toi Cook. The Mounties won six Southern Section titles in baseball, five in boys' basketball, one in girls' basketball and four in football.
"It's devastating," said one Montclair Prep coach who asked his name be withheld.
Former NFL and Montclair Prep defensive back Toi Cook said, "It's beyond horrifying."
-- Eric Sondheimer
Photo: Torey Lovullo went from Montclair Prep to success in the majors. He is currently the first-base coach for the Toronto Blue Jays. Credit: Eric Miller / Reuters.