On November 15, Stewart Payne went before the Sweetwater Union High School Board and asked for the creation of an independent task force to investigate charges against the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body that makes decisions regarding high school athletics.
Payne has alleged that the San Diego Section of the CIF has engaged in actions that are perceived as discriminatory and that the San Diego CIF charges the district too much money for services provided.
Payne made a presentation to a packed boardroom. He told the board that while he believes in the institution, he does not believe in the current leadership of the local CIF. He called for a neutral task force to investigate charges made by various people in the district.
Payne has asserted that some student athletes or teams, depending on color or affluence, have been sanctioned differently by the CIF. Payne has also suggested that the local decision-maker, the CIF’s Board of Managers, does not reflect the cultures or the ethnicities of the students they serve. (The Board of Managers is composed of local superintendents or their appointees and is the ultimate decision-making body for the San Diego-Imperial County section of the CIF.)
Payne said he is also concerned about the financial arrangement between the Sweetwater school district and the CIF. The district, according to Payne, pays $49,000 for all students to belong to the organization; however, out of 27,224 students, 9528 actually participate in athletics.
Another issue brought up by Payne pertained to gate income: high schools and the CIF used to split the gate receipts from football games. In 2008, the CIF decided to increase their take to 70 percent of the income; the district began receiving 30 percent.
Representing another point of view, the father of athlete Tony Jefferson said that through participation in the CIF program, his son was able to earn a full scholarship to the University of Oklahoma.
At the end of a long evening, the Sweetwater school board decided to do nothing.
The Sweetwater board’s approach to CIF issues contrasts sharply with the way the San Diego Unified School District recently handled similar concerns: The SDUSD board convened a special workshop on October 5 and listened to the testimony of five athletic directors and numerous parents. After hearing extensive anecdotal reports alleging the current local leadership of the CIF “lacked compassion” and proceeded on a “guilty until proven innocent” basis, the board decided to write a letter to the CIF expressing their concerns and seeking corrective action. Among the concerns are: eligibility requirements, point assessment, military transfers, governance models, residency, scheduling, due process, gate proceeds, play off criteria, public-versus-private schools, and the timing of appeals.