And the moral of the story is…

Let’s start with the end.

“If we start interpreting every single rule, we would be so bogged down,” [CIF] Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said. “It would bring this organization to a standstill.” (story)

No one wants to be bogged down or at a standstill, right? In my opinion, the potential standstill or bog-down aren’t the real issue though. It’s really about the potential increased cost of having someone interpret the rules and apply them based on the circumstances. CIF believes it costs more to be reasonable. Lord knows our real judicial system relies on interpretation and gives plenty of consideration to circumstance. So why can’t CIF?

Bogged down? More expensive? Sounds plausible, but let’s think it through for a second. If reasonably-minded adults evaluated CIF decisions without its Bylaws, I bet their “performance” would be better than CIFs and it would cost a whole lot less to defend challenged decisions. As a matter of point, CIF spends more than $1.1 million each year on legal fees (document). The majority, more than $800,000, apparently is straight-up legal fees associated with defending itself at appeals hearings and in court challenges.

Here are a couple of real-life scenarios to consider – First, in 2005, “A high school relay team, among the fastest in California, is disqualified from a championship race because one of the runners is wearing different-colored underpants.” (Story) Second, “A baseball team wins its first-round playoff game, 4-0, then must forfeit because its coach, who had been suspended for a game, is seen watching — but not coaching — from down the street.” (Story)

Yes, this sounds ridiculous but in both cases CIF rules were upheld. In the case of the baseball coach, he should have probably watched the game at home via streaming video or at least from two or more blocks away. And I’m sure track fans were aghast at the sight of three chaps wearing one color underpants and their amigo wearing another.

Could CIF think for a second and be fair and reasonable here? Heck no! No one wants to get bogged down, you know. I don’t even need to go further here to have proven my point and won my bet. Any reasonably-minded adult would have clearly looked beyond these “infractions”. Especially when considering what was at stake.

Sadly, stories like this abound in California. Ask around and I’m sure you’ll quickly find someone who can tell you a story of the rigidity demonstrated by CIF in applying its rules – Rigidity that flies in the face of common sense and fairness as we know it.

 In a sorry attempt to clarify CIF’s position in regards to the relay and baseball teams, Jim Staunton, then commissioner of CIF Southern Section had this to say, “It can even appear to be a minor or a small point, but … our obligation is to uphold [CIF rules] as much as, maybe personally, we may not like to. Otherwise, there are no rules.”

Hey Jim, I hope when you and others at CIF wind up in a court of law looking for leniency, the judge looks you square in the eye and says, “No interpretation here folks. We can’t afford to get bogged down.”

Advertisements

Lies, Damned Lies and CIF Statistics

We all know how important the use of statistics can be to winning an argument or swaying public opinion. We also know politicians have become experts at creating and using statistics on the fly with little worry of backlash given the public’s limited appetite to question or do the research required to validate. Politicians prey on laziness and ignorance.

Apparently, CIF officials know this all to well and have no problem invoking the same strategy when it comes to getting what they want. Especially when that something is winning an appeals case or making CIF and its commissioners look good in the eyes of peers, the press, CIF members, parents, the public and, most importantly, the legal system.

In a recent article, State CIF Appeals Coordinator, Bob Wallace told the Auburn Journal, “…the CIF hears more than 100 appeals challenging section rulings statewide each year, on average. Nearly 60 percent favor the athlete appealing…” That does sound awfully good – six of ten athletes appealing a CIF decision win upon appeal. That kind of number makes it look like CIF is actually listening to appellants and upon hearing “evidence” contrary to CIF findings, overturning its original decision. On the flipside, it makes the 40% of denied appeals seem to be really bad since CIF is, after all, so accommodating when it comes to appeals.

Mother always said, “If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true.” That’s right everyone, what Bob Wallace said was factually incorrect. Not true. Flat our wrong.

According to a CIF Economic Viability Report submitted to the State Legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January of 2010, CIF eligibility decisions were overturned on appeal less than 40% of the time. The facts show CIF decisions were overturned only 30.4% and 36.8% of the time during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years respectively. For those interested in how their section fared, the document breaks out appeals hearing results by CIF section.

Seems like the headline for this story and my mother were right.

Assembly Bill 352 needs to be passed. YOU can help!

Did you know Assemblywoman Audra Strickland authored a Bill last year striking right at the heart of the CIF?

The main thrust of Assembly Bill 352 (AB 352) requires CIF to comply with the Calfornia Public Records Act. As such, CIF will be treated as a public agency and required to provide the public with access to all records related to its operation. AB 352 also includes language permitting CIF to redact sensitive personal information when releasing records to the public, but does not allow withholding of records or documents for this reason.

The passage of AB 352 will finally lift the veil of secrecy CIF has operated under for years. No longer will CIF’s media silence and refusal to produce documents related to its activities and decision be allowed. The public will finally gain access to CIF records. A new era of CIF transparency and accountability will arrive when this Bill is passed.

As you probably guessed, CIF has lobbied hard to kill this Bill. This despite a unanimous committee vote by the Assembly in April of 2009 to move the bill along. They don’t want people knowing the truth. On the other side of the coin, the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) publicly supports passage of AB 352. In June of 2009, CNPA sent a letter to Assemblywoman Strickland detailing its support of the Bill.

So where is AB 352 today? In May of 2009, it was referred to the Committee on Rules (document) which is chaired and vice-chaired by Ted Lieu and Ted Gaines respectively. It sits in Committee today, waiting to be finalized and passed. Unless the public lets the legislature know it wants AB 352 to pass, it is likely to die in Committee.

How can you help?

Contact the following people to let them know your story and that you want AB 352 passed now. Also, tell your friends to do the same:

Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (Author of AB 352)
Phone: 916.319-2037
E-Mail: Assemblymember.Strickland@assembly.ca.gov

Assemblyman Ted Lieu (Chair, Committee on Rules)
Phone: 916.319-2053
E-mail:Assemblymember.Lieu@assembly.ca.gov

Assemblyman Ted Gaines (Vice Chair, Committee on Rules)
Phone: 916.319.2004
E-mail: Assemblymember.Gaines@assembly.ca.gov

Let’s work together to let the State know we’ve had enough of status quo from the CIF and passage of AB 352 is a big step in the right direction towards changing the organization for the better.

CIF San Diego Section on the hot seat

March 3, 2010 2 comments

It seems CIF San Diego Section and its commissioner, Dennis Ackerman, are also being taken to task by citizens for apparently being arbitrary and discriminatory in application of CIF Bylaws and penalties. The stench is so bad, even the local newspaper and a television station have jumped in to the fray with stories, opinions and ample television time:

Local CIF plans independent investigation into bias claims (San Diego Union Tribune)
Violations at Poway High were apparently ignored
(San Diego Union Tribune)
Appearances seem fishy in Poway probe (San Diego Union Tribune)
Citizens Against CIF spokesman outlines case against Ackerman (KUSI TV)

The story being told in San Diego is eerily similar to many stories around the state. With little to no oversight, CIF commissioners feel free to dispense “fairness” and enforce of CIF rules as they see fit. Some schools get a pass on violations (or a slap on the wrist), some do not. Some players get a pass, some do not. Preferential treatment rules the day. Clearly, people are fed up with CIF and want change. Read the comments on the bottom of the Union Tribune stories or watch the video.

Yes, change is desperately needed.  It’s going to take a lot of work, but it will happen. I applaud the folk in San Diego for applying continuous pressure. It is needed. Stewart Payne, head of Concerned Citizens Against CIF, gets a “thumbs-up” from me.

The good news is change is in the wind. Not only are everyday folk like me working hard to “out” the CIF, there’s legislation (Assembly Bill 352 and Assembly Bill 1154) moving through the state legislature that will force the CIF to give the public greater access to CIF records and challenge its decisions. I call this much needed transparency. It’s also called shedding light where it needs to be.

By the way, props to Assemblywoman Audra Strickland for authoring these two bills. If you’d like to show her your support or simply tell her your CIF story, give her a call at (916) 319-2037.

I do plan to cover the legislative angle more deeply in coming posts.

Rocklin and Roseville High School recruiting violations

March 2, 2010 32 comments

Update (4/11/2010): The Sacramento BeeRocklin Coach Steps Down, Cites Relentless Pace
(Note: Story notes reason for Rocklin being placed on probation by CIF)

(March 2, 2010) Evidently Rocklin and Roseville High Schools have been sanctioned and placed on “Level One Probation” by CIF for infractions CIF won’t disclose. I contacted Pete Saco via email and he wrote, “It is not the practice of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to discuss any sanctions levied against any member school with the media or general public.” Pete then instructed me to contact each school regarding the nature of the infraction. I do know from a post on CIF Sac-Jaoquin section’s website the infractions were violation of Bylaw 510 (recruiting violation).

Seems to me if CIF were acting in the best interest of the public and its member schools, it would readily disclose the details of the infractions and penalties imposed rather than hide behind a website post and the offending schools.

I guess I am left to speculate. And, I can do that. This email – October email Chain – obtained from CIF, establishes Roseville High School violated CIF Bylaws by actively recruiting Remi Barry. In the email, Coach Granucci approaches Keith Moss and pretty much begs for him to place Remi at Roseville High.

The email also implicates Steve Taylor of Rocklin. Not for recruiting Barry, but for recruiting Moss’ son to play at Rocklin. I don’t know if Granucci’s claim against Taylor is true, but either it is or someone is lying.

Clearly, there’s a serious violation of CIF rules plus a serious allegation of a violation detailed in this email. Is it to much to ask CIF to come clean on what’s going on here? The best thing CIF can do is provide transparency with regards to the sanctions against Rocklin and Roseville. Were the sanctions related to Barry or were the sanctions for earlier infractions?

To be clear, CIF is not coming clean. Instead they’re using their business as usual approach and hiding behind walls. Walls that clearly need to come down. Don’t believe it? Well, here’s Pete Saco’s response –Saco response to inquiry – to my detailed request for information.