The forfeit of the San Bernardino boys basketball team’s 94-85 victory at San Gorgonio on Jan. 23 was upheld by a 5-1 vote at a San Andreas League athletic directors meeting according to San Bernardino AD Patrick Mills and San Gorgonio AD Matt Maeda.
The Cardinals forfeited the game to the Spartans after a freshman basketball coach, who had been ejected from a game at another site earlier in the day, sat on the end of the San Bernardino bench for the varsity game. San Gorgonio filed a protest of the game shortly after.
“I was notified in the fourth quarter of the varsity game by our freshman coach,” Maeda said. “He told me that the coach had been ejected from the freshman game earlier that day at San Bernardino High and asked if he was allowed to be on the bench. I said absolutely not.”
The athletic directors and coaches talked briefly after the game about the coach in question, though they had different interpretations of what should have been done.
“I talked to (San G boys coach) Cedric Wells at the end of the game and he said that he didn’t want the forfeiture, but would give it to his players for a vote and let me know,” Mills said. “However, Maeda had already sent the paperwork in.
“The coach’s oldest daughter plays on the varsity basketball team and he was there for that and asked if he could sit on the end of the bench. He was told it was OK as long as he didn’t do any coaching.”
Maeda felt that the rule, which is Rule 16.27 according to the CIF rulebook, needed to be enforced, as it was impossible to quantify what affect the ineligible coach did or did not have.
“The rule states that a coach or player that is ejected isn’t even allowed to be in the building to watch, much less on the bench,” Maeda said. “They stated the rule like that so there is no grey area. You can’t just say ‘You can stay there as long as you are not really involved’ because how do you determined how involved you can be?”
The vote Wednesday was for seeding preferences for the upcoming playoffs rather than the overall record. The playoff brackets will be released Sunday by the CIF offices and San Bernardino didn’t want the forfeited loss, or the extra win, under consideration for league seeding purposes.
“It’s happened before,” Mills said. “(Pacific athletic director) Carmel Brand mentioned that Pacific’s 1995 boys basketball team went 10-0 but had to forfeit all of its games due to an ineligible player but we were awarded the top seed out of the league. The league can award its seeds however it wants and that’s what we were asking for.
“We didn’t use an ineligible player. We didn’t have a varsity coach participating illegally. I’ve never seen a coach make a basket for a team.”
Said Maeda: “In my opinion, voting for that would have been a contradiction of why the rule is in place. If you are going to have that rules, you have to enforce the consquences that result from it.”
The ruling puts the Cardinals, who have lost their last two games, in a precarious spot. San Bernardino (14-10 overall, 5-4 SAL) is tied with Arroyo Valley (12-11, 5-4) for third place in the league, one game behind second-place San G (12-13, 6-3). One game remains in the regular season, with San Bernardino playing at first-place Cajon, San G hosting fifth-place Pacific and Arroyo Valley playing at winless Colton.
Should things hold up, the Cardinals will be looking at relying on an at-large bid to qualify for the Division II-AA playoffs. Only three teams automatically qualify from the six-team SAL, which will leave the Cardinals on the edge of their seats for the CIF-Southern Section’s version of Selection Sunday if the expected results take place.
“I don’t know if we’ll make it in or not,” Mills said. “It depends on how many automatic qualifiers get in from the other leagues. It’s going to be a tight one.”
Whatever the result may be, San Gorgonio desires to put the incident in the past and focus on the future.
“We didn’t want this,” Maeda said. “It’s as stressful for our school and our administration as it has been for San Bernardino’s. We want all of the San Bernardino schools to do well and we want to avoid situations like these.
“Had we known about it before the game, we would have let them know. No athletic directors want to go through this.”