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Posts Tagged ‘Auburn Journal’

CIF Votes to Postpone Final Decision on Rule 600 Change (Outside Competition – Soccer)

May 7, 2010 11 comments

According to good sources, the CIF has voted to indefinitely postpone making a final decision regarding a proposed change to Bylaw 600. As proposed, the rule change would seriously impact club and high school soccer in Northern California.

Click here for background story

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The CIF’s Kangaroo Appeals Court: Where Fair is Not Fair When it Comes to Eligibility.

March 10, 2010 12 comments

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) trades on the premise of being fair when it comes to evaluating student-athletes’ appeals of eligibility decisions. However, a detailed review of its own rules reveals its appeals processes to be nothing close to fair. In fact, it looks more like a fraternity or “old boy” club giving itself the flexibility to dispense with fairness in arbitrary and capricious ways while taking care of its family, friends and “fraternity brothers”.

According to CIF rules, a student has the right to appeal a decision made by CIF regarding eligibility at an appeals hearing set by CIF. As detailed in Parent Handbook II: Understanding the Transfer Eligibility Appeal Process, appeal hearings are held before an impartial review officer or impartial panel of three persons.

A cursory review of the rules and words used to describe said hearing would lead most reasonable people to believe the process to be no different than a traditional court of law. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

According the Parent Handbook:

“Appeals Panel members or Review Officers may be current or retired school district administrators or athletic directors, retired or current athletic administrators or retired Section officers. No Appeals Panel member may be employed by, or retired from, the schools, school districts, leagues or conferences involved in your appeal. The State Appeals Office sets the Appeals Panel.”

So, in the case of a CIF appeal hearing, it’s truly not possible for panel members to be impartial (definition) since the all have current or previous ties to CIF, be it directly or indirectly. A recent Auburn Journal story by Eric Gourley offers good insight into the appeals panel selection process.

Given panel members’ ties to CIF, it’s not unfair to conclude each would naturally have a predisposition to find in favor of and protect CIF. Even if panel members didn’t, the mere perception of partiality should cause one pause. It’s akin to having a fraternity brother or cousin on the jury at your own trial. No lawyer would allow such a thing to happen. It wouldn’t be fair. What CIF has is not impartial. It’s a process slanted in favor of CIF.

There is a simple solution to this problem. Add non-related individuals to the appeals panel. CIF would no doubt fight this, arguing non-related individuals wouldn’t be familiar with CIF Bylaws. While this perspective sounds reasonable, it’s a ruse. The assumption that CIF-related panel members understand the rules is simply wrong. The appeals panel I am familiar with wasn’t as familiar with the rules as one would hope and believe, especially with so much at stake. Sadly, nor was the CIF lawyer. Regardless, we’re not talking about rocket science here. It wouldn’t take too long for an “outsider” to bone up on CIF Bylaws and listen to a student-athlete’s case before making a decision.

So, what’s CIF afraid of here? Probably what it professes to seek, fairness. Introducing outsiders to the appeals process and panel instantly introduces transparency and fairness while, at the same time, eliminating cronyism and favoritism, perceived or real. We all know the stories. School A violates rules and CIF looks the others way. School B violates rules and the book gets thrown at them. CIF answer to this is, all cases are different. Alright then, if this isn’t the case, CIF should be willing to prove it by releasing facts around cases instead of hiding behind statements like, “It’s not CIF practice to release information…”

The use of the word “hearing” by CIF should also make one shudder. Clearly, CIF wants people to believe its “hearing” process is similar to that of a true court of law. You know, the one with due process and rules of evidence. Unfortunately, CIF’s “hearing” is not even a distant cousin of how you probably think a hearing is conducted. CIF’s Parent Handbook is clear about its appeal hearing procedures, “The technical rules of evidence and rules for the examination of witnesses do not apply.”

So, let’s break this down. The simplest summary is, California Rules of Evidence are NOT followed and, as such, hearsay evidence and innuendo are fully admissible and given standing. What’s that mean? It means CIF doesn’t have to prove its case with facts. A statement made by a third-party to the effect of, “I heard so and so say…” can lead to the denial of eligibility for a student athlete. Period. It’s truly an anything goes situation. The infamous, “he said, she said,” we all try to avoid is in full play.

Evidence as presented by CIF need be nothing more than innuendo and hearsay. Regardless of fact-based submissions in defense of the student athlete, ALL submissions are tragically treated equally and evaluated by an “impartial” (see above) appeals panel. Would you favor your fraternity brother or a stranger in a “he said, she said” argument?

CIF has in effect created a Kangaroo Court.

As I’ve said in previous posts, most people are too lazy to research and truly understand CIF Bylaws and rules.  Instead people take what’s implied in CIF statements at face value. The Kangaroo Court used for eligibility appeal hearings is a far cry from a true court of law. In the case of student athletes, it merely a tool for CIF to fool the public into believing there’s an appeals process, appeals panel and appeals hearing that’s fair and follows due process like our true court of law.

In the end it’s a way for CIF to continue its unfair and biased way of dispensing its version of fair while keeping the public at bay. This is indeed a sad situation for schools and student-athletes and is likely the underpinning of CIFs image problem with the public.

The fix is easy. CIF needs to establish a true appeals process for student-athletes. This is not too big an “ask” as far as I can tell.

So, what are you waiting for CIF?

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.