Jurors awarded former California State University, Stanislaus, men’s basketball coach Mike Terpstra $540,000 on Friday, finding race was a factor in the university’s decision not to rehire him after the 2002-03 season.
Terpstra, , claimed the university let his contract expire because it wanted to replace him with a black coach.
During the seven-day trial, jurors watched as former and current university administrators, players and boosters club members weighed in on the tumultuous final months of Terpstra’s three-year tenure on the Turlock campus.
Afterward, a few jurors explained why they supported Terpstra:
They were moved by the five witnesses who testified that they heard athletic director Milt Richards talk about a “Black Mafia,” a reference to an alleged group of black administrators at Stanislaus.
They pointed to the phrase “recruitment of two African-American coaches,” which Richards jotted down on a rough draft of his self-evaluation after the 2000-01 season.
When the draft was introduced Thursday, Richards testified that he was referring to two black assistant coaches brought in throughout the year, and that, after speaking to another administrator, he took the line out of his official evaluation.
“That letter broke the camel’s back with some people,” according to Lilia Meza, 29, a nurse from Oakdale.
Another female juror, who requested anonymity, commented: “Why couldn’t he have just said ‘two coaches?’“