Pomona High School could face far more costly ramifications than just a forfeited game for its football team after the Red Devils failed to honor a contract to play Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo in a nonleague road game last Friday night.
The result will go into the record books as a loss for the Red Devils, who didn’t make the trip after district officials determined that a four-hour ride to Mission Prep and a four-hour ride back were not in the best interest of the players, according to a statement last week by Pomona Unified School District administrative director Fernando Meza.
Pomona’s problems may not end there, however. According to the CIF-Southern Section blue book, under rule 151.2 any expenses incurred by the offended school, in this case Mission Prep, for stadium rental, transportation, officials’ fees, etc., shall be paid in full by the school breaching the contract.
It gets worse for Pomona. Under rule 151.3, when a school fails to engage in a contest agreed upon, without giving notice to the other school and securing an honorable release, it may be suspended from membership.
Mission Prep athletic director Vic Ecklund said Monday that he and school principal James Childs are still mulling what action, if any, to take next.
On Aug. 6, the two schools finalized a contract to play each other in a nonleague game at Mission Prep on Sept. 12. Ecklund said that in late August, Pomona informed Mission Prep it wasn’t going to honor the contract due to district concerns.
When asked last week by this newspaper about the reasons why his school needed to cancel the game, Pomona athletic director Anthony Rice cited travel costs and other factors.
“Once the info was sent to the school district, it was one of those things where they said it was too much,” Rice said last week.
Rice’s explanation makes little sense since the original contract had Mission Prep paying $1,500 for Pomona to have a chartered bus for the trip and even a pregame team meal paid for the by the host school before the game, according to Ecklund. Rice did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.
As for the time concerns, Ecklund said that Mission Prep offered to move the kickoff for Friday to 8 p.m. or play the game on Saturday. Those offers were declined. Eventually, Ecklund said his calls to Rice were not returned.
Meza issued another statement on Monday saying that the game was cancelled after the school district decided that its students would have returned to campus at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. Meza did not answer questions as to why the game was scheduled in the first place if that was such a concern.
“After determining that having an overnight trip to play a non-league game was not in the best interest of our students, athletic directors at Pomona High opted out of the game,” Meza’s statement said. “Upon making that decision, Pomona High athletic directors immediately communicated with Mission Prep two weeks prior to the Sept. 12 game.
“While we worked with Mission Prep to reschedule the game, it was mutually understood that neither school could accommodate alternative arrangements. Cancellation or rescheduling of preseason games among schools is not uncommon.”
Southern Section spokesperson Thom Simmons said Monday that his office had been informed of the cancellation by the schools and has received no other information on the matter.
Resolving the situation, according to Simmons, was between Mission Prep and Pomona and that no other CIF action beside calling the game a forfeit loss for the Red Devils would be taken unless either school expresses further complaints on the matter.
“We’re always disappointed when schools that enter into contracts don’t live up to the agreements,” Simmons said. “What we don’t know is the full extent of the reasoning behind why they couldn’t fulfill the terms of the contract.”
Both teams appear headed toward big seasons in their respective divisions. Pomona is 2-0 in games played on the field, but technically 2-1 after the forfeit. The Red Devils are ranked No. 3 in the Mid-Valley Division. Mission Prep, which is now 2-1, is ranked No. 2 in the Northwest Division.
It’s not uncommon for teams from the Southland to play nonleague games at Mission Prep. Arcadia-based Rio Hondo Prep has an annual series going with Mission Prep, that requires the Kares to make the trip at least once every two years assuming the teams don’t also meet in the playoffs.
Other teams to have played road games in recent years against Mission Prep include St. Monica of Santa Monica, Linfield Christian of Temecula and Riverside Christian.
POMONA DISCUSSION STARTS AROUND 26:30