CIFSDS Heavily Enforcing Bylaw 510E (Following your club coach)
CIF San Diego Section met with all head coaches and assistant coaches of multiple sports and discussed several topics, but the topic that took center stage was the eligibility of eighth graders, who do not reside in a particular schools residential zone and transfer to the high school that their club coach is coaching at. CIFSDS has made it very clear to coaches that any eighth grader who plays club or AAU basketball for a coach or team associated with a high school will face the possibility of being ruled ineligible for the season, unless they are able to articulate a hardship as the reason for the transfer, which we have learned is not as easy as some may think.
The head coach and the school are required to fill out a pre-enrollment contact form (Form 500) which will be submitted to the CIF office for review. The form must be filled out by the parents and submitted to the school. Once CIF receives the form, an investigation will be opened to confirm undue influence was not part of the reason the student enrolled to attend that high school. Furthermore CIF stated that this is not a new rule but is an active rule that has been in effect prior to the commissioner change in 2011. This rule is applied to any contact during a 24 month period. So if you have a player in the 7th grade that attends a camp or clinic at a particular high school or plays on a club team associated with a high school. That 7th grader must report the pre-enrollment contact if they end up enrolling as a freshman at that high school. If not and CIF somehow finds out via anonymous phone call, letter or any other way, the student is risking their eligibility to play at that school.
If you follow basketball in San Diego and you’re familiar with the club teams and the high schools they are associated with, then you see 8th graders enrolling at high schools where their club coach is coaching at in many instances across the county. This article is to inform parents that CIF is now heavily enforcing bylaw 510E. Their student athlete is now at risk for being ruled ineligible for an entire season. CIF has stated that if the contact is not reported and they find out one way or another, that student can be ruled ineligible for up to 24 months depending on the outcome of their investigation. False information will not be tolerated. If CIF finds false information is provided they are able to rule your student ineligible for a longer period of time. It is highly suggested that parents discuss this with their coach and the school’s athletic director prior to enrolling at a school where their club coach is coaching at.
Many coaches and athletic directors around the county have mixed opinions in regards to this bylaw or do not know about this bylaw which must be followed for every CIF sanctioned sport. High school football coaches passing out flyers at youth football games for camps and clinics must report the contact if a student from that camp enrolls at their school within a 24 month period. Same rule applies to basketball, softball, volleyball etc… If an investigation is opened without a form 500 on file that student is highly likely to be ruled ineligible by CIFSDS.
We found one school in particular that had 3 girls (all freshmen) ruled ineligible during the 2018 basketball season due to bylaw 510E. The families who will remain anonymous provided details of their experience with CIFSDS and the investigation they went through. 2 of the 3 students reported contact to CIFSDS. According to the families they filled out form 500 well before the start of the season. Both families communicated as much information as possible to CIF and provided documentation including police reports, doctor recommendations and at least one of the families provided a work address showing they worked within or near the boundaries for easy pick up, they also produced documents showing the school district accepting the students based on the same information that was provided to CIFSDS. Also, at least one of the families has stated they know of an anonymous letter and/or phone call that was made on their daughter that came from a rival school. They also stated the letter was written after they (the family) had already provided all their documentation and forms to CIFSDS. Therefore the letter was providing CIF with redundant information that had already been self-reported.
During the initial interview (approximately 1 week prior to the start of the season) they were told by the CIFSDS commissioner that their student athletes were prohibited from participating in a basketball game or scrimmage until the investigation was complete. Four weeks later both of the girls were officially informed by CIF that they have been ruled athletically ineligible for one full year, which also meant they were ineligible to participate in the schools next years off season workouts. Not only were they ruled ineligible but what one family feels was “insult to injury” CIFSDS ruled the players ineligible 1 day after the 1st of only 3 CIF state appeal dates had already passed. Meaning in order to appeal the decision to the state CIF panel, they will have to wait another 3 weeks until the next appeal date. CIFSDS concluded that based on their investigation taking in account the families interview as well as information and documents provided “the families did not sufficiently rebut or disprove the evidence that athletic motivation (following a club coach) was in whole or part, the reason for the transfer.” CIF stated “the transfer of a student from his or her current school of attendance with or without a valid change of residence to any CIF member high school where the student participates or participated, during the previous 24 months, on a non-school athletic team, (i.e. AAU, American Legion, club team, etc.) that is associated with the new school in the sports previously participated in shall be considered prima facie evidence (sufficient evidence) of undue influence/recruiting. Such transfer may be considered prima facie evidence (sufficient evidence) that the student enrolled in that school in whole or part for athletic reasons”. Prima facie basically means your child can be ruled ineligible based on theory or CIFs discretion.
The 3rd student ruled ineligible was a player that was on the junior varsity team. According to the family, they did not fill out a form 500 due to the fact the school administration advised them that they were within the school boundaries. Apparently CIF received an anonymous letter (separate from the previously mentioned letter) written by who the family believes is to be a family from a different rival school. The letter presumably stated the student played club basketball for the coach of the high school the student attends. The family acknowledges that the student did play for one of the assistant coaches; they also provided the school with information regarding the pre-enrollment contact when the question was asked on one of the pages of a sports packet each athlete must complete prior to tryouts of the sport in season. However, it is noted that the coach whom the student played for was not on staff at the time of the student’s enrollment. Furthermore the family was under the impression they did not have to fill out a form 500 since they resided within the school boundaries. The coach was told she could no longer participate and the student was immediately ruled ineligible the same day that CIFSDS received the letter. The family mentioned that a surprise home visit was conducted by the school districts administration to verify the student’s residential status. The family said they were never given an official ruling from CIF as to why the student was ruled ineligible, but they were told by the school districts administration that CIFSDS has ruled their student ineligible due to bylaw 510E (following a club coach).
After paying $150 for the appeal, three weeks later, 20 games into the season, one of the family’s finally gets to their appeal date and is in front of the state CIF panel to make a plea for their daughters eligibility (at this point the family is hoping they are going to make a case to reduce the calendar year suspension so their daughter can be ruled eligible to participate in the off season workouts at the least.) Adjacent to the family is the CIFSDS commissioner pleading his case as to why the state panel should uphold his ruling that the player should remain ineligible. According to the family the CIF state panel ruled their daughter eligible immediately, overturning the CIFSDS decision. Based on the CIF state ruling, CIFSDS overturned their own decision and ruled the other 2 girls eligible immediately and later cancelled their state appeal dates. All 3 players were ruled eligible to play. According to the family the CIF state panels unanimous decision to overturn the CIFSDS ruling, is because the entire panel decided the girls were ruled ineligible based on bylaw 510 and that bylaw did not apply to incoming freshman.
Now, as we stated in the beginning of the article CIFSDS called a meeting with all coaches to clarify the interpretation of the bylaw and make it clear to all coaches and athletic directors that bylaw 510 does indeed apply to incoming freshman and will be enforced. If your child has pre-enrollment contact with coaches or players it will need to be reported weather you reside within the school boundaries or not, weather you are playing junior varsity or varsity. If the contact is not reported you may find yourself going through what these 3 families went through.
What does this bylaw mean for private schools since they have no boundaries? This law gets very tricky with private school coaches that coach middle school athletics. Private schools have no boundaries; in a nutshell, a private school coach presumably cannot coach a player that is in the 7th or 8th grade if that player is planning to attend that private school. Since they have no boundaries, if they have pre enrollment contact with a middle school player, it will have to be reported and that player will have to go through the process of an investigation. They will have to provide evidence as to why they are attending that particular private school. They will have to answer questions such as; Is this the closest private school? If not then why did they choose that private school? Why do they have to drive by 3 other private schools to get to that one? And other questions of that nature. If prima facie evidence is found that there was undue influence that student will be ruled ineligible. As you read above doctor’s recommendations, police report due to bullying and the coin excuse of a better education did not matter. Players were still ruled ineligible with all of those reasons factored in. Even junior varsity players. Parents need to make sure you follow the rules and submit your paperwork. Once your paperwork is submitted your child’s eligibility will be in the hands of the CIFSDS commissioner.