In Wednesday's Times, Eric Sondheimer wrote about an effort to help keep the Los Angeles Unified School District's sports programs active. An excerpt:
A projected $640-million deficit in the 2010-11 school year prompted the school district to institute a 25% budget cut in the sports program. In the fall, football programs were going to be reduced from having six paid coaches to four and freshman-sophomore basketball teams were expected to be eliminated. Additional cuts were planned for the spring.
McCourt said he learned of the proposed cutbacks to sports after inviting a group of civic leaders to the Dodgers' spring training facility at Camelback Ranch in Arizona late last month.
"Everybody was quite alarmed," he said. "We went to work in a collaborative way. I indicated right then and there they should count me and the Dodgers in."
McCourt pledged that the Dodgers Dream Foundation would help support baseball and softball.
Giants owner Peter Magowan didn't want Colletti to go, especially not to the archrival Dodgers, and certainly not until after the GM meetings, which were in Indian Wells. When those meetings concluded, Colletti drove to Los Angeles and met with Frank and Jamie McCourt for eight hours.
"You could tell the process was going to be very quick,'' Colletti said. "They had a lot of questions on a vast array of topics, and it was very much a rapid-fire Q-and-A. I had a lot of questions for them, too."
That was on a Friday. Magowan, who had granted a 72-hour window for the McCourts, met with Colletti on the following Monday.
"We talked about where we had been as an organization,'' Colletti said. "I said I really had to follow through. Frank called and asked for a second interview and I said yes, but we needed a 24-hour extension on the window. Peter said he would only give me until noon on Tuesday. I went home, grabbed a suit and flew to L.A. We met at the Beverly Hills Hotel from 2 until midnight, with a 45-minute break for a salad at the Polo Lounge.''
The interview was intense, challenging, exhausting, but Colletti gave as good as he got, which was exactly what McCourt was looking for. Colletti pretty much heard what he wanted to hear, as well.
"I talked about the goals and objectives of the organization and how serious I was about those,'' McCourt said. "I wanted him to have a very clear sense of what he was walking into, and he was undeterred by it. It was what he wanted.''
McCourt left at midnight and returned the following morning at 6.
"By 10, Frank had offered me the job,'' Colletti said. "By noon, we had a deal.''
[Frank's] attorney, Sorrell Trope, told the judge his client can't tap credit lines to maintain Jamie McCourt's high-falutin' lifestyle.