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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.

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Comments

mustang Nov. 20, 2010 @ 5:42 p.m.

The public schools are paying the way for the private schools to win championships. SUHSD pays more that 50 other schools combined for membership fees. In fact SUHSD pays more for the 17,000 or so students that don't participate in athletics than these 50 schools (Mostly private schools) pay for the athletes that do participate in athletics. Basically, the public schools are subsidizing the private schools participation in CIF athletic programs.

Participation in CIF programs has nothing to do with awarding of scholarships. Mr. Jefferson should realize his son got a scholarship because he was a talented athlete. Earning a scholarship would have happen regardless or where he played football or any other sport as long as he was academically qualified. Certainly, Mr. Jefferson is aware of this fact. However, had CIF ruled his son inelgible to participate; like it has some many students throughout this county, his son would not have received a scholarship because CIF would have denied him the opportunity to showcase his talents. Mr. Jefferson should count himself lucky in that regard. Many other students have unjustifiably been denied the opportunity to showcase their talents and earn a scholarship. Instead of slapping CIF on the back for something they had no role in, Mr. Jefferson should be working to make sure all student athletes have the same opportunity that his son had.

The CIF Playoff pairings have always puzzled me and the recent football 2010 pairing are no exception. It puzzles me how teams with a 5-5 & 4-6 record get the top 4 seeds over teams that have significantly better records. This is another way in which the system is rig against certain schools to make a run at a championship more difficult to attain.

Shame of the CIF and those that harbor them and thier unethical acts.

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Susan Luzzaro Nov. 20, 2010 @ 6:39 p.m.

During the interview for this report, Mr. Payne said that the Superintendent of Sweetwater Unified School District, Dr. Jesus Gandara, canceled his first presentation several weeks ago though it had been ratified by a board member. Payne raises an intriguing question: does the superintendent tell the board what to do, or do the elected representatives tell the superintendent what to do?

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savesweetwater Nov. 21, 2010 @ 8:44 p.m.

This is another example of non-responsiveness on the part of Sweetwater Board of Trustees regarding community concerns. Mr. Payne does his homework...and asks the board to create a task force, that would include a variety of stakeholders, to investigate the issues he raised. All the board did was listen to the district-stacked coaches speak of their support of CIF. Interestingly, the only people who spoke in favor of CIF were the Sweetwater coaches who have had winning CIF teams. Why is it that athletic directors or coaches who have not had CIF winning teams were not asked to speak? Why was it so difficult to take action and create that task force? I agree with susan's question above. It's time this board starts listening to the constituents they represent.

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Founder Nov. 25, 2010 @ 2:21 p.m.

"Doing Nothing" seems to be a major problem in South Bay which makes me think that there are too many"hidden agendas" going on to ignore any longer! What are these Boards afraid of?

When Money and Sports mix, usually the Students are the big losers!

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