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Southern Section Council endorses revision to CIF transfer rules

Sit-out period for transfers would be 30 days instead of one year

Posted: April 25, 2012 7:26 p.m.
Updated: April 25, 2012 7:26 p.m.
 

Over the last year, the biggest hot-button issue in Santa Clarita Valley sports has been transfers.

After a vote that took place Wednesday in Long Beach at the CIF-Southern Section Council meeting, the temperature is only going to rise.

The Council, made up of representatives from leagues within the Southern Section including the Foothill League, voted 41-40 to endorse a revision of CIF transfer rules. That rule would change the sit-out period for transfers from one year to 30 days.

Southern Section representatives will now vote in favor of the proposal on May 4 at a meeting of the State Federated Council in San Jose.

“This will change high school athletics more dramatically than any other rule that we’ve had in some time in my opinion,” said Valencia High athletic director Brian Stiman, who has been one of the valley’s most outspoken opponents of students transferring schools for what he believes are athletic purposes.

Stiman reasons that 30 days is not a penalty and it will allow private schools, which Foothill League coaches and administrators have accused of poaching local talent from the area, to recruit.

He also said that it could also encourage recruiting within the Foothill League’s schools.

The Foothill League’s athletic directors were unanimously against the rule change and thus voted against it, according to West Ranch athletic director Dody Garcia, who is also the Foothill’s secretary and was at the meeting Wednesday.

“I don’t like it. I think it’s a bad rule,” Garcia said. “I think it opens things up for transfers and more problems. It’s the equivalent to high school free agency.”

If passed on May 4, the new rule would take effect July 1.

Fall transfers would be eligible to play Oct. 1, winter transfers would be eligible Dec. 31 and spring transfers would be eligible April 1 — which would all coincide with the beginning of league play.

In Wednesday’s Council agenda, CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod gave his support to changing the sit-out rule.

Wigod wrote: “We typically do not take positions on rules proposals because our governance at the Section level is based upon our leagues and/or our Sport Advisory Committees making the rules, not those of us who work for the CIF-Southern Section. However as the Commissioner of the CIF-Southern Section, in my capacity as a member of the Commissioner’s Committee, I take on a different role in relation to our section when rules proposals come forward from that committee. I have a responsibility to take a position on the rules changes that have been forwarded to you because I am a part of the group who formulated them. Therefore I want to be clear in letting you know that I support these rules changes and would like you to support them as well when your league votes on April 25.”

Thom Simmons, director of communications for the Southern Section, acknowledged that legal fees have helped lead to this rule change.

In the agenda, it was reported that the CIF as a whole has had legal expenses of $750,008 as of March 20, 2012 for the 2011-12 school year.

In 2010-11, the fees totalled $1,197,961.

Simmons said he understood how there would be dissatisfaction to one side and support from another side on the rule change.

“Some people think it opens the floodgates for massive transfers, some feel it’s not restrictive. There are different schools of thought,” Simmons said. “Fifteen years ago, there was the open enrollment rule change. That didn’t kill Western Civilization. The nice thing about this is if it doesn’t work, there’s a mechanism in place to change the rule. We could go back.”

Simmons said the rule would apply to this coming school year and could be reviewed in the future.

Within the rule, students would only be allowed to have a sit-out period once in their high school career.

If they transfer twice, they will have to sit out a year from varsity competition.

Students who transfer citing a hardship will have to provide “strong documentation from both the school and family.”

The CIF-SS also argues that this will not increase transfers.

The transfer data it has for 2011-12 as of March 16, 2012, shows that 1.6 percent of CIF participating student-athletes are transfers.

Locally, students will still have to get the William S. Hart Union High School District to sign off on the transfer and show that their transfer is not athletically motivated.

Stiman said that won’t stop kids from transferring for athletic reasons.

“Unfortunately now what you’ll have is if someone is upset or disappointed, they don’t like a particular offense or style of play, they’ll pack up and leave,” Stiman said. “The sense of loyalty is going completely out the door.”

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