TRANSFERGATE: The final chapter …

Here’s my column from Friday, in case some of you non-print folks missed it.

There’s probably a lot of you walking around the Valley scratching your heads this week.

When Bishop Amat High School tight end Brock Booth was ruled eligible this week by CIF, it put the cherry on top of a situation that began just more than a month ago and was dubbed Transfergate in this office.

It began with the news that South Hills informed CIF that it believed the transfers of Booth to Amat and receiver Chris Gilchrist to Charter Oak were athletically motivated, setting in motion a chain of events none of us are any better off for.

Both players were ruled immediately ineligible to play this season. Not because CIF is evil, but because CIF is obligated to protect Amat and Charter Oak from using a player who may later be ruled ineligible, thus costing the teams any wins they may have had.

After their respective appeal processes, both players had their eligibility restored at their new schools. In Booth’s case, it meant going before a state appeals panel because the Southern Section still ruled him ineligible after Booth’s camp made its first appeal for eligibility. What the state appeals panel saw that the Southern Section didn’t is beyond me.

If you’re not hanging out right now on Fairgrove Avenue or Covina Boulevard, you’re probably perplexed how this happened.

If you’re hanging out on Cameron Avenue across the street from a golf course, you’re probably mapping out a way to secede from the Southern Section.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself if you’re one of the many who are upset by the whole process and its final outcome.

Don’t blame CIF. Don’t blame Bishop Amat, Charter Oak or South Hills. Blame yourself if through the years you’ve been one of the hundreds of thousands of people who said, “CIF needs to do something about all these transfers.”

Well, CIF did. And they did it not because commissioner Jim Staunton, assistant commissioner Rob Wigod and information director Thom Simmons got together for dinner one night and decided to bang out a constitution.

CIF did it because that’s what you wanted.

There’s a common misconception that CIF makes the rules. They don’t. CIF merely upholds the rules that the member schools make up. And because there’s been an undercurrent of disgust from the public over the rampant transfers of student-athletes in recent decades, what you have today is a tightening of policy that creates the head-scratching results many fans are dealing with this week.

When Gilchrist and Booth were first ruled ineligible for the upcoming season by the Southern Section, it was time to score one for the old-school crowd that hates transfers.

But now that Gilchrist and Booth are eligible, who do you score one for? Uh … Bishop Amat? Charter Oak? Maybe, but only for the time being.

Score one for the process? CIF’s Simmons thinks so.

“I think it looks great,” Simmons said. “To me, it shows the process worked.”

Well, I choose none of the above. I say score one for reality. This is the pathetic prep sports world we leave in, and my best advice to you is that you either join the rest of us who deal in reality, or have fun continuing to swim upstream.

This isn’t the 1970s anymore. Parents are delusional. Kids are prima donnas.

Coaches are egotistical. Sports writers are gluttons. We’ve all got blame.

Doesn’t make any of us bad people.

Some of our biggest problems in politics today are because half the country doesn’t want to see the country for how it truly is, but rather how they want it to be.

When you legislate from the “how I want it to be” side, you’re dead on arrival. I’ve got news for those of you in that camp as it pertains to this particular issue: transfers are here to stay. To police them is impractical, because you can’t police a person’s will. History proves that it leads to disaster.

If parents and their kids want to roll the dice despite the lottery odds that Little Johnny is going to get a scholarship due to his transfer, then let ’em. You never hear about the 98 percent where it doesn’t work out.

Over the last month, there have been a lot of relationships taxed because of this situation, and where are we at the end of the day? Right back at square one, with Booth eligible to play tight end at Amat and Gilchrist shagging balls out of the sky at Charter Oak.

It is what it is.

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  • nice article, and your’e right parents are delusional, and the kids are primma donnas, starting @ Pop warner and junior All-American football, all through high school, same goes for coaches, i had a kid quit our team because he couldnt wear his own helmet, some of it is politics, but what happened to being a team player

  • The Stang Fan

    With a new lawsuit against CIF on the horizon (from a Mater Dei player who moved to Cali from the other side of the country), it’ll be interesting to see what plays out in court regarding “athletically motivated” transfers.

  • Colt Insider

    Nice article Aram…It’s something that goes on at all the schools and we all scratch our head why some kids get denied and some kids get accepted. Booth should have never been cleared.

    Maybe your next article could be on why kids dont play multi sports like they did growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I know you have Rio at Bishop,Travis at CO, Bueno at Monrovia but it’s not like it was before. I know at Covina we have 6 impact kids on the football team that also play baseball but I guess that is the luxury of playing at a school that only has 1500 kids and you dont have coaches pushing you to play one sport.

  • K. Rockne

    I think the answer lies in the schools themselves. If you have a consistent steady program with loyal and steady coaching that are content with their level of competition and provide a winning environment both academically and atheletically you won’t have a problem. You don’t see to many kids leaving Bonita, San Dimas, Claremont, Wilson etc. And if a kid decides to transfer they get a good luck and see ya around.It’s no picnic for the transfer kid either. He faces new team mates, coaches,travel, and guys who,s playing time he hopes to take from them. You think they like that after being loyal for 3 years? Just let those parents and kids go and dont let the door hit you on the way out. A fine athlete will always fly.

  • Colt74

    Colt insider,

    When I was at Covina if you wanted to play football you had to go out for 2 other sports for the rest of the year. Football coaches “suggestion”. I liked that policy personally. If you have not seen a defensive lineman running the low hurdles in track you don’t know what you are missing….( breaks out in cold sweat just thinking about that )….

  • Aaron

    This is the truth…CIF only has new rules when member schools bring them forward and leagues vote on them.

  • Colt 74

    Agreed..great reading. K Rockne brings up a great idea for a follow up article that in all reality would be impossible to do… How do the kids of these teams feel about these prima donnas transferring over and booting them to 2nd string. Sad that the new HS sport mantra now is ” Bust your butt..give 100% to your team and you’ll play….until we can get someone to transfer in that is better than you. “

  • curious

    Colt insider, Curious why shouldnt Booth have been cleared?

  • Colt74

    3 High schools in 4 years….but it’s not athletically motivated ?

    Los Altos
    South Hills

    Now that is scheduling up!

  • Hefe

    Just let any student transfer & play at his/her new school at any time. I mean, we might as well, right?

    The initial denial by the CIF is just smoke & mirrors. The smarter fan can see right through it.

    These student athelets’ families are bringing in high powered lawyers into the mix. Some of thes kids are hardship cases which makes me wonder how the parents are paying for this legal representation to begin with.

  • Unreal…

    I say let the kids play wherever they want to.

    South Hills is now facing the negative side of transfers after all the years they enjoyed the incoming transfers.

    If it’s public to public you should need a legitimate address change. Private to Public should require a legitimate address and Public to Private should not be challenged since Private schools are not bound by any district lines.

    Problem solved.

    Go AMAT!!!!

  • saladays


    Brilliant! You must be raking in the money over at the tribune.

    “It is what it is.” Wow! How original! How distinctive!

    I’ll call Pulitzer get your ticket to Columbia ready.

  • 3 N 3

    Colt inside 74 or whatever, why did booth leave Los Altos, was it athletically motivated?

  • Colt74

    3 N 3 or whatever,

    The ONLY people that could answer that is the young mans parents. But if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck ….

  • Colt74

    Unreal DOES bring up an interesting argument …public to private. I’d have to agree there.

  • Not the ONLY one

    It’s been posted on several times why the booths left LA; you know it had nothing to do with athletics. So why try to present false accusations, is the 74 a year or IQ?

  • fairness in sports

    Fairness in sports said:

    One thing the CIF could do, and maybe has tried, is separate the public and private schools in the playoffs. I am Catholic, but coach at a public school. It has nothing to do with religious discrimination, it is just not fair. Whether private schools actively go out and recruit doesn’t matter. The fact is, that students can go to private schools not matter where they live. Plus, many private schools are paying huge salaries to get top coaches which the public schools can’t do either. Then just divide up the divisions by school size and that’s about as fair as you can get it.

  • Colt74

    I’ve been thinking about this since last night when this was first published….the more I think about it the more I come up with that there should not be any restrictions on transfers other than they must be completed prior to the start of whatever sport they wish to play by some time period. Some Eligibility time line waiting period. Time to verify a students academic minimums are met. Families move all the time for whatever reason. What if the kid and the coach had personality differences ? What if the coach was just an ahole? You can’t just put it on a kid and think he’s a prima donna. Too many variables that us as outsiders are not privy to.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…

  • General Turgidson

    Henceforth, Aram has been promoted to “El Presidente.”

    It is not a world of men! Well done, son.


  • Colt74

    Not the ONLY one said:

    It’s been posted on several times why the booths left LA; you know it had nothing to do with athletics. So why try to present false accusations, is the 74 a year or IQ?

    I know of no such thing. I’ve done 2 hours of back reading on this subject just today alone. I’ve searched the internet and here and can’t find any articles about the young mans transfer from LA. That doesn’t mean it’s not out there..I just have not come across it. If you have the link post it.

    We’re not talking about an isolated one time incident also. I see a pattern. So do most everyone else.It’s sad that the California school systems are in such a state of disarray that our parents have to shop around to find a teacher ( or 6 in each day ) that can get through to them, huh? And if they have a sports team that our kid can play on instead of warming a bench then that is just an unexpected surprise!

    Bottom line is I have changed my stance on Transfers. It can’t be can’t be controlled and we as outsiders can’t have all the facts. We can only go on what we read, what we hear, and our gut feelings. I’ve posted mine and you have posted that you know I know something that I don’t, and attacked my IQ….I’ll keep doing it my way.

  • smallcity


    Probably the best piece you’ve written that I have come across. I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I can appreciate a well reasoned and thought out argument, if you will.

    I can only assume what the state appeals panel saw and it’s what I’ve said all along. An athletically motivated transfer is subjective. How in the world can anyone prove otherwise? It’s simply not cut and dry. You’re giving a group of individuals a rule so vague and ambiguous that no group or person could possibly interpret the rule consistently. That’s why, at least to me, you have 2 groups, from the same organization no less, rule opposite one another. Could you imagine giving a jury these instructions as written and then have them decide a case! A trier of facts would have a field day with this one.

  • jcaz

    Every now and then I watch day time television and when I do, I often see that the very same theme’s are seemingly always a constant on there.

    First of all, the rich are unhappy, second of all someone is inevitably dying and and there is either no cure for the guy, or he has a miraculous recovery.

    Anyway, while there may or may not be some level of truth to some of these story lines, more often than not, its all a bunch of bullschitz.

    My point here is why in the world should it really make a difference where a kid plays football at ?

    To believe that you are somehow upholding the public good by denying them the ability to transfer is about a big a fantasy as day time TV is and about as real as the possibility that one day i;m gonna wake up nex to to Angelina Jollie….Aint gonna happen bubba.

    I mean really ? What is the central issue here ?

    If Manny Rodriguez or even Norm Chow want to work in a different city or for a different team, then why cant they do so ? Who really give a rats azz anyway ?

    Look, when someone goes to school they are hoping to better themselves in some way, am I not correct ?

    Weather it be for academics or for some other nefarious reason people go to school. Some of theses schools are better than others. That’s not my opinion, that’s just a fact.

    So why then can’t a selfish snot nosed kid who has pimple bigger than his eyeballs attend a school with a better football program than the one across the street from where he lives anyway ?

    If the kid is going to move out of his district, or if he is going to pay tuition, then he has abided by the rules (if you call them that) already. So why in the world are spending all of theses resources on trying
    to prevent people from bettering themselves anyway ?

    You know, all of those kids including those that wanted to go to South Hills last year, should have been allowed to have played wherever they wanted to.

    After all, as has been spoken about time after time again on theses blogs, we dont have a similar rule against the kid who transfers from Calstate LA to Cal Tech because they have a better math department do we ?

    Of course we don’t because any one with a half a brain can realize just how stupid that is.

  • On top of jcaz

    jacaz is right, the same should go for college. Why do 17 yr & 18 yr old kids have sign letters of intent to a school? Come on, if they want to transfer to a college to be a part of a team that is winnning games rather than being with a team that is losing they should be allowed to transfer.
    Just like college, high schools and high school coaches will start employing scouts to recruit kids not just before they enter high school but the scouts can go look for talent on a not so good program and recruit them to come to their high school the next year. Then what happens?…..The parity that CIF and the school disricts that try as best they can to keep a balance of competition within the leagues is no longer possible. Why? because a kid can transfer to whenever and wherever he wants. Because remember what is most important about high school…. Anybody?…. Well its not sports.

  • Westside carpool

    Fairness in sports – public schools are some of the biggest recruiters and if you think addresses matter and all those kids are from the “neighborhood you just haven’t been watching Charter Oaks roster lately

  • grim reaper

    half of south hills coaching staff is bolting next year if not sooner. you didnt hear this from me folks

  • Jeremy


    You ARE a freakin’ genius!