CIF-Southern Section responds to PrepXtra Live broadcast discussing “athletically motivated” transfers.

ARAM TOLEGIAN COLUMN

It didn’t take long for me to get a response from the CIF-Southern Section after this newspaper’s blogs posted the replay of the Tuesday PrepXtra Live broadcast, in which a panel that included myself, Fred J. Robledo, Steve Ramirez and Pasadena Star-News Editor Frank Girardot discussed the ongoing drama in the high school sports world that centers around two words: athletically motivated.

During the segment, which still os available for viewing by going to any of our prep sports blogs, Girardot asserted the controversial athletically motivated rule equates to communism. That didn’t sit well with the CIF-SS, nor has much that anybody recently has to say about the topic. That’s because it’s become very clear, at least to this sportswriter, that whenever people open their mouths about this controversial rule they really don’t know what they’re talking about. Myself included.

Can you blame us? It’s confusing. The rule is confusing. It sounds simple enough: if a student transfers to another school and the reason is deemed to be athletically motivated, then that student has limited athletic eligibility.

But just what does “athletically motivated” mean? The Orange County Register’s Steve Fryer asked that question point-blank to new CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod back in August and the answer he got was, “Steve, I do not (have an answer).” Wigod went on to say the rule, or definition of it, essentially is deciphered on a case-by-case basis.

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Wigod, just like the rest of us, is in a bad spot. The rule and its interpretation leaves plenty of gray area. So when you hear four writers sitting in front of a camera discussing it, you can be rest assured we don’t have all the answers. When you hear parents discussing it, you can be certain they’re missing important pieces of information. And when you hear coaches address it, it’s a lock they’re not grasping the full complexities of its meaning.

The rule came into play at the start of the 2009-10 school year. I asked CIF-SS Director of Information Thom Simmons what the official reason was that the rule was enacted.

“I’m only speaking on what I think the membership felt and that’s if you’re going to be transferring, you should be transferring for academic reasons and not for athletic purposes,” Simmons said. “Secondly, and people forget about this when they say kids should be able to transfer to whatever school they want to transfer to, they forget the cost to the person who is already there at the school and has already put in three years on the junior varsity or frosh/soph level, and he’s worked his butt off and kept his good grades and has been a good citizen, and now a guy with a better skill set comes in and this kid finds himself on the bench. He’s suddenly replaced after all the years of loyalty to that program.

“That’s the human cost on the other end that nobody ever talks about. Now that kid thinks to himself, `This isn’t fair, so I’m going to go to another school.’ And then he takes the spot of another kid who has been there all along. And so the dominoes keep falling and falling. Where does it stop?”

When Simmons refers to membership, he’s referring to schools that comprise the Southern Section. They make the rules for the CIF-SS to act on. Now you know who to blame for the rule in the first place. How does your local high school feel about this? Have any of you gone down there or called and asked how the school or its league voted on this issue? I doubt it.

According to a Los Angeles Times article this week, the Trinity League is expected to introduce a proposal at the next Southern Section Council meeting it hopes eventually would eliminate the rule state-wide. Yes, that means when a player leaves School A’s football program to go to School B, School A cannot stand in the way by claiming the move is athletically motivated. Other longstanding rules, like valid change of address or hardship request, still would apply.

The earliest a change to the rule could be enacted would be the 2012-13 school year. That’s assuming the process goes smoothly. Personally, I hope it goes through, simply because I’m tired of the confusion. I’m tired of either myself or others being only half right because we didn’t have the actual case file in front of us. I’m tired of parents and athletes having to apologize for making athletics an important reason why they left one school for another or decided to attend one school instead of another at the outset of a high school career.

Parents and student-athletes have four short years to make it all happen.

Nothing beside some very basic guidelines should stand in their way while making the decisions they feel are best for their own individual situation.

When buzzwords like communism start being thrown out, right or wrong, you know we’ve reached a point when something has to be changed. It’s coming.

That much I can assure you. People are fed up. The question is whether anybody will be able to tolerate a reversion to how things were before 2009.

Back then, there was a whole different group, call them traditionalists, who cried bloody murder when kids refused to play for their neighborhood school.

But at least then, we all understood the rules, rulings and interpretations.

aram.tolegian@sgvn.com
twitter.com/ChemicalAT

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  • StangKiLeaks

    Telegram from inside Stang Arena…. boys hoops is on brink of shakeup, 1 or 2 are planning on leaving for HS to play, master Gamal has adamantly vowed to ruin their path by blocking the transfers, using athletically motivated reason n all…Gamal is losing control of team and has had a few colorful exchanges with parents in the foyer and at showcass, stay tuned

    StangLeaks

  • Coach Smalley

    All 10 of our returners from last years CIFSS 5AA Championship Finalist team, are back and doing a fine job, every day! Most of them are honor roll candidates and our parents are as passionate as ever. When they have something to say they will let you know but when they put their arms around you they do that in a big way as well. I simply LOVE ALL of my supportive parents and our program direction.

    The Pasadena High School program is as sharp and successful as ever and though we are rivals to some degree we are family as well. I have received so much help from Coach Tucker over the years, I could run out of space on this blog and I have helped his players with college opportunities and other charitable events just like a family of community coaches should.

    I know a lot of coaches all over the country but I don’t know any coach that would try to ruin the path of a transfer and I certainly would not purposely try to ruin any child’s opportunities for success anywhere. The StangLeaks blog was brought to my attention and I didn’t know if I should just ignore it, have taken off, or respond. So there it is straight from the coach! I am no master but I serve one who is strong & mighty. Keep the faith.

    Blessings,
    Coach Smalley
    John Muir High Mustangs

  • http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org PASHOFPAL

    “That’s the human cost on the other end that nobody ever talks about. Now that kid thinks to himself, `This isn’t fair, so I’m going to go to another school.’ And then he takes the spot of another kid who has been there all along. And so the dominoes keep falling and falling. Where does it stop?”

    Huh? So, the walk-on who never played and transferred to the school simply because his parents moved to the state…or that coach saw his 6’5″ frame and convinced him to play…would be allowed to take that “loyal” kids spot? That would be fair? Or what about the athlete who created his/her own red shirt program (if you will) by sitting out his/her ninth grade year and evaluating his school’s team before playing…and then transfers? Would that be okay? Technically, his/her transfer could not be considered athletically motivated because we wouldn’t know there interest in sports…having not played his/her 9th grade year.

    It’s a confusing subject under any scenarios…..that does not have to be.

    All transfers must and should be considered academically simply because it involves a high school -a place of higher learning. You can’t transfer, much less attend a high school unless education is a priority. If a student can meet the guidelines to transfer to any school based upon the criteria of that school district why can’t that be enough to play sports…. or be on the debate team, participate in theatre/music group, etc?

    Whether we like it or not, high school sports is relevant and valuable to many…except to that student or parent, right. We can have televised games, 2-5 million dollar football fields/stadiums built, schools can sell memorabilia national wide, host camps wherein NFL/NCAA athletes and coaches are paired up with high school students athletes, sports-blogs and tons of print and internet media regarding it – football in particular, but we are to deny the student athletes (or their parents) the ability to place that same value? Just asking.,,but it’s not just for play anymore.

    It was once believed that your education could take you anywhere……not according to the CIF.

    Please, please, please let’s resolve this. It takes away from the excitement on the field.

    Laurence Todd
    President
    http://www.pasadenasportshalloffame.org

    P.S. Coach Smalley – Keep doing what you do best and go easy on Tucker and the boys this year!