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The Signal sits down for a Q&A with CIF-SS commisioner Rob Wigod

Wigod addresses ‘association rule,’ transfers, playoffs, public-private d

Posted: September 19, 2013 10:47 p.m.
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:47 p.m.
CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod. CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod.
CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod.


The CIF-Southern Section approached The Signal recently about doing an interview with Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod.

Wigod said he wants the Southern Section to be transparent and wanted the public to understand the organization’s role and rules.

The Signal asked questions that we felt were relevant to the Santa Clarita Valley — questions about the amount of time kids have to devote to their sports, transfers, an everlasting debate about public and private schools playing in the same division and playoffs.

One notable thing coming out of the interview is the issue of whether playoffs should feature at-large or wild-card teams and the possibility of that coming to an end, thereby giving less teams a chance in the playoffs.

Wigod was extremely transparent and answered every question.


Q: It has been five years since the “association rule” was eliminated, thereby allowing high school coaches to work with athletes year-round, except for a three-week summer dead period. How does the Southern Section ensure that coaches are not taking too much of a student-athlete’s time?

A: There was a long tradition in our section of a very strict rule that limited the amount of time coaches could spend with their student-athletes outside of the season of sport. Those rules, as strict as they might have been, only applied to school personnel. They didn’t apply to club coaches or people that didn’t work in the school setting.

Our rules are made by the membership not by me or anybody else working here. The feeling was if we’re going to have people coaching at our schools who are club coaches or outside agents, this gives us the opportunity to control some of that.

If your high school coach is also your club coach, you have the ability to talk to them about the offseason program and make it reasonable instead of the old way where you had no control over how much time your students would be spending outside of the season of sport.


Q: Has there been thought of bringing the rule back in some form?

A: We have to be very cognisant of our role and that is to support our schools who are the actual rule makers.

I can say this — our executive committee has asked and we’re going to do once schools have settle down a little bit, they’ve asked us to survey our membership about the association rule. They’ve asked us, we’ve administered a survey and had the questions reviewed by the executive committee. We’re going to do a survey of our schools to gauge it. It has been about five, six years now that the rule has been eliminated, and we’re going to get some feedback from our section as to where they feel about it.

I’m a parent of a high soccer player. My daughter’s a 10th-grader. She plays soccer for her high school team. She also plays for a club team. I’m well aware how that works and the times of the year of the high school and the club and when each of those are active and where you’re spending more time. Not only being the commissioner here and employee here for a lot of years and being a coach and athletic director before that, I’m living it myself. So I understand the dynamic of what you talk about.


Q: With all the demands on time high school sports places on kids, has there been a consideration for a longer dead period?

A: The dead period rules are in a situation where schools have a choice now. Those (rules) have been liberalized.

At one time, you couldn’t use school days as dead-period days. Now schools use it in the early part of June or they could still be in school and use the first few weeks of June as a dead period and those could be finals days.

The dead period rule has been a pretty sacred rule for a long time.

I’m not sure if our section would be in favor of eliminating it. Extending it, that’s an interesting question. But there’s a process for that happening and that wouldn’t come from the top down, from me the commissioner or our staff. It would come from a league or schools out there that would want to pursue that. Maybe our coaches advisory committee, our football coaches advisory committee.

In Santa Clarita there are representatives from that committee.

If that’s an issue, then we would expect the coaches from the area or any of our coaches advisory committees to bring forward.


Q: Athletes are not the only ones competitive. So are the coaches. Is there a way for the Southern Section to monitor coaches so that they keep the kids’ best interests in mind and be teachers first?

A: It has to be in the context of what power we have.

I don’t employ coaches. I don’t have the ability to employ them. I don’t have the ability to sanction them if they do things wrong. They are directly under the supervision of those who do employ them, the school district, etc.

The issues — like the emphasis a coach has on a program, the time element requirements that coaches may demand of players, the length of practice, even financial demands and or requirements schools may place on students, on their parents — all those things fall under the supervision of those who employ and supervise those employees.

That can be frustrating for people who wish we had more of a role.

I can say I’m constantly contacted by parents who want to bring forward issues they’re not particularly pleased with at a school, or the way a coach may conduct their program.

But I always have to refer them back to the school administration, because that’s the person who put that coach in place.



Q: You questioned in March the value of having at-large teams in the postseason. What sort of feedback did you receive from that?

A: I got a lot of positive feedback on that.

There are a couple of concepts to be addressed here — the level of expense involved, the level of class time missed, and there’s also the level of competitiveness and what we stand for as an organization when it comes to conducting championships and playoffs.

In October, our executive committee will forward a proposal that will go to the Southern Section council that will be a first-read item, and the first read item will be about eliminating Blue Book rule 3214.1.

That’s something that will come to the council for discussion in October and then we’ll see where our schools are.

It will ultimately be our member schools’ decision.


Q: We have state championships in some sports like football, basketball, volleyball, cross country and track and field. Are there more on the horizon, specifically baseball and softball?

A: There is actually a calendar the state CIF has published and has put a priority order of what’s next and what’s next and what’s next.

Girls wrestling is the one that is the most recently implemented.

Coming up after that, they’re looking at studying swimming — boys and girls swimming.

After that, the one after that I believe is badminton.

There’s definitely a priority order.

Baseball and softball are not at the forefront of that discussion. You can understand the biggest issue with baseball, softball is considering when that can be played.

We’re already going to have our baseball, softball championships played on June 6 and 7 this year. A lot of the schools in your area will be done by then.

So I think statewide as they look at the potential of adding baseball and softball, that’s not quite on the list as early as some of the others.


Q: We have local critics of the current baseball playoff format. Has their been discussion of turning baseball playoffs into double-elimination College World Series-like?

A: Absolutely. Our baseball advisory committee forwarded a proposal.

I was the baseball administrator here for 11 years before I was commissioner and we were still working on that when I was assistant commissioner.

It came to the point where we put together a proposal for a double-elimination, two-out-of-three format for baseball championships and brought it to the Southern Section council.

It was discussed and it didn’t pass.

Typically what you find sometimes is you’ll have coaches with some pretty good and reasonable proposals that would be great for baseball. The problem you have is getting principals and athletic directors to support it because they’re the voters for the most part at our meetings representing the leagues, and sometimes there’s a disconnect between the competitive part of what a great baseball tournament will look like in that format and the actual cost and reality for a school to be in that format with transportation, the extra time and extra games that it would take. I’m not convinced it wouldn’t come back again.


Q: What sort of impact did the revision of transfer rules (which changed the sit-out period from one year to 30 days) from 2012 have?

A: I want to make it really clear to folks. If anyone had the idea, and I don’t think we ever represented that the new rules would change the number of transfers, the issue was the present rules we had made it very difficult in terms of legal costs and being able to manage the large number of transfers there.

Eighty-five, 90 percent, maybe more than 90 percent of transfers are coming through on valid change of residence.

Kids who didn’t play the last year, many of them were processed and cleared, and maybe 5 percent, 10 percent there were issues, things that had to be addressed.

The effort was made to manage this better.

The new rules coupled with our new online communication system called cifsshome has really done what we believed it would do, and that’s manage this process better, get kids cleared when they need to be cleared and on the field, make sure if we had issues there was a clear-cut process for hardship, clear-cut process for what could be waved, clear-cut process for if you want to call it “a penalty” it’s on the table.

If you’re going to transfer schools and not move, you will sit out for a period of time.

After one year, it was a very strong effort. We didn’t want to change a lot for this second year.

We wanted to evaluate how things were going.

I’m not necessarily saying we’re done, but it was important to give this enough time to see if it would do what we were hoping it would — that is manage the number of transfers in an effective and easy way in terms of the processing and getting it done and secondly make an impact on legal costs for people who wouldn’t accept the penalty and weren’t willing to understand there would be a limit on eligibility when you transfer.

Now they’re understanding clearly.


Q: People in this area still complain about private schools and say they think they should play in their own divisions. Would the Southern Section consider this?

A: At this point I’m not in favor of that.

That’s something we are in control of. We are the ones who formulate playoff divisions.

Our organization just celebrated our 100th anniversary last year. Our tradition and history is we’re very proud of the level of what we offer as large as a section as we have and the kind of programs we have in our section. And we’re very proud of that, and to think about separating our programs because there are issues or even perceptions of issues that people believe public and private are doing different things.

I wrote about that. My point was to say if recruiting bothers you, are you really telling me only private schools recruit? I don’t think that’s the case.

If it’s transfers, is it only private schools that have transfers? I don’t think that’s the case either.

Is it facilities? Is it only private schools that build nice facilities? I think we have a lot of examples of school bond measures that have been done to build nice new facilities.

Is it payment of coaches? People will bring up some private high-profile high schools are maybe paying a tremendous amount for coaches. Well I guarantee there’s a whole lot of private schools that aren’t paying much at all. And if you ask public school coaches about benefit packages and retirement packages and salaries and tenure they have as a public school teacher/coach, I think you find it’s a completely different situation for a private school coach who has no tenure whose job is at the whim of a school depending on their success or lack of success.

Our rules apply to everybody.

There’s no difference with public and private schools.

It’s the ability of both public and private schools to follow those rules as they relate to recruiting and transfers and some of the things that frustrate our schools.

That’s where I think our task really is.

If we’re really going to look at public and private, let’s look at the whole picture.

If you look at Santa Clarita Christian, I would imagine the facilities are a lot different than an Oaks Christian. And I would imagine the payment of coaches at Santa Clarita Christian is different as well.

And we have a whole lot more Santa Clarita Christians than Oaks Christians.

And so those are some of the things that I think are missed in the discussion where some people believe all public schools are like this and all private schools are like this.

But when you break it down, I don’t think you really see that.

Our rules apply to everybody.

It’s the willingness to follow the rules — that’s the real issue here.


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