By Jeremy Balan
As first reported by Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group, the California Interscholastic Federation’s Federated Council approved three proposals that will not only have a significant impact on high school sports in San Francisco, but in the entire state.
Here is a rundown of the three changes and how they affect San Francisco programs specifically.
Open Division basketball
For both boys and girls basketball, the CIF approved the addition of a sixth division beginning next season.
The new Open Division can be composed of teams from any division and teams can opt in or be pushed up unwillingly.
According to Durkin’s report, the Open Division selections will be determined after the section championships, no more than four teams from any section can be selected and the teams must meet at least one of a set of four criteria, listed below.
– Win two consecutive section titles
– Qualify for the regional (NorCal or SoCal) championships for at least three of the past four seasons
– Qualify for the regional championships after having reached the regional final the previous season.
– Be ranked in the top 10 in the state by one of three predetermined web sites that publish state rankings for two straight seasons.
The reasoning for the CIF adding the division is assumed to be due to recent private-school dominance in the basketball state championships and a desire to pair the two best teams, across all divisions, in the Open Division championship games.
The San Francisco team from last season that fits these descriptions most would be the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys team, which lost to Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills in the Division III state championship game. The Irish have won four consecutive CCS D-III titles and have entered the NorCal tournament in each of those years.
While Sacred Heart coach Darrell Barbour, who previously coached at Woodside, a public school, admitted he preferred the old system, he also expressed ambivalence about the new system.
“I’m not going to lose any sleep over it,” Barbour said. “Things that I can’t control I don’t worry about. They didn’t ask for my vote or my opinion. I had no voice in it.”
Barbour also acknowledged the potential of a team that is capable of winning a lower-division state title getting knocked out of the Open Division playoffs in early rounds.
“If we’re in the Open, that mean’s we’ve been successful. If you’re playing there, you’ve been doing something good,” Barbour said. “If you can tell me right now that we’d win another section title and then go to the Open Division, I’ll take that in a heartbeat.”
New transfer rules
Beginning next season, transfer students at any stage of their high school careers will now be required to sit out 30 days before they can participate in varsity competition for their new school.
Prior to this ruling, the CIF rules required a student that transferred after their freshman year to sit out of varsity competition for a full year. Transfers prior to the end of their freshman year did not have to sit out any time.
For the upcoming 2012-2013 season, transfer students would have to sit out until Oct. 1 for fall sports, Dec. 31 for winter and April 1 for spring.
Only one transfer is allowed under these rules and any other transfers after the first would require a student to sit out a full year.
Mission basketball coach Arnold Zelaya, who has a track record of suiting up transfer students from City Catholic schools, is in full support of getting student-athletes eligible to play as soon as possible.
“I think that sports is such a positive thing for kids, especially in the inner city” Zelaya said. “Kids transfer for a variety of reasons, but I’m all for them playing as soon as possible. However, like any rules, people can take advantage of them. Hopefully that won’t happen under the new rules.”
NorCal boys volleyball tournament
Boys volleyball isn’t necessarily considered a marquee spring sport, but now it has a leg up on traditionally dominant seasonal sports like baseball and softball.
Beginning next season, the best teams in each Northern California section will participate in a regional championship, which Southern California already has.
The San Francisco Section champion will presumably get at least one automatic bid, which Galileo coach Mark Huynh looks forward to.
“It’s about time,” Huynh said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. The boys always ask why they don’t get to play [past the Academic Athletic Association championship game], but I’m more excited about the best teams in the region duking it out.”