The CIF San Diego Section modified the CIF bylaw prohibiting tryouts or practices with outside entities during a sport’s CIF season.
With the exception of Escondido Union School District Superintendent Jon Petersen, every CIF Board of Managers member present at the Jan. 17 meeting voted for the change which now allows CIF San Diego Section athletes to participate in college identification camps, specific sport camps, clinics, and group trainings which are not under the auspices of any youth club, travel team, or outside team including personnel associated with such an outside team for which the student-athlete has participated in the previous 24 months.
A separate Jan. 17 voting item, which passed unanimously, eliminated the prohibition against a student participating in a regular or independent study physical education class outside of his or season of sport in which more than half of the class is devoted to that sport.
“What we’re trying to do is provide our kids more access,” said CIF Assistant Commissioner Todd Cassen.
CIF Rule 600 in part reflects the state CIF prohibition against student-athletes playing for club teams during that sport’s CIF season. (Players on a high school team may compete as unaffiliated individuals in a tournament or meet.)
At the state level, Rule 600 predates the 1960 formation of the CIF San Diego Section. The San Diego Section has implemented more stringent restrictions, including a prohibition against in-season practices or training and an out-of-season period prohibiting athletic-oriented contact between players and their high school coach.
In 2003, the San Diego Section prohibited practices or training with a club during a sport’s CIF season. The in-season rules for CIF team practices include a maximum number of hours and a prohibition against Sunday practice, and the purpose of the prohibition against training or practice was to prevent club teams from being used as a shield against illegal team practices.
“I understand why it was put in place,” said CIF Commissioner Joe Heinz.
The prohibition was modified shortly after to allow exceptions for gymnastics, swimming, and diving due to the specialized nature of training. The rule was not meant to prohibit group tryouts for a specific college coach.
The CIF San Diego Section prohibition against tryouts or practices with outside teams during a sport’s CIF season was intended to prevent abuses, not to prevent high school student-athletes from attending a legitimate college session to identify potential future athletes for that college team.
In 2013, the Board of Managers voted unanimously to make an allowance for participation at college identification camps. The exemption allowed a student-athlete to attend up to two college ID camps per season.
Part of the reason for the 2013 modification is that in the San Diego Section boys soccer and girls soccer are winter sports while at the college level men’s soccer and women’s soccer are played in the fall. In most CIF sections, and in many other states, soccer is a fall or spring sport.
A college ID camp is defined as a sport-specific camp held on a college campus under the direction of a college coach. Under the 2013 modification, student-athletes needed permission from the school’s head coach for the sport and from the school’s athletic director or administrator prior to attending the camp, and an ID camp participation form needed to be completed, approved, and signed by the CIF prior to attendance at the camp.
A college ID camp flier or a link to the camp website needed to be submitted to the CIF office along with the completed ID camp participation form, and the CIF section office would list approved college ID camps on its cifsds.org website for reference purposes.
The CIF bylaws already had exemption provisions for participation in an Olympic Development Program as well as tryouts for the Olympic Games, Pan-American Games, or U.S. Paralympic Games.
A May 2017 modification allowed swimmers to compete for an amateur team during the season of sport in the USA Swimming Senior National Championship Meet, the USA Swimming Sectional Championship Meet, and the USA Swimming Junior Olympic Meet and allowed divers to compete for an amateur team during the season of sport in the USA National Championships, the USA Junior National Championships, and any regional and/or zone championship meets which would qualify that diver for the formal national championship meets.
“As times have changed, the athletic landscape has changed,” Heinz said.
The state CIF has 10 sections, and none of the others had the bylaw against in-season clinics and college identification camps. “There are several San Diego Section bylaws that are specific only to us,” Heinz said.
If a college identification camp wasn’t approved, student-athletes from other sections could attend even though San Diego Section athletes couldn’t. That was also the case for clinics, even those held within the San Diego Section boundaries. “Other kids can come down here from all over the state,” Heinz said.
The relaxation of the prohibition against camps, clinics, and group trainings was brought before the San Diego Section’s Coordinating Council, which is an advisory group consisting primarily of representatives from the section’s conferences, Dec. 13.
The Coordinating Council vote covered both the modification of camps and clinics limitations and the modification to the out-of-season physical education policy and had an 18-6 vote to recommend the modifications with three abstentions. The Jan. 17 meeting separated the modifications into two separate agenda items.
The change still prohibits students from participating in practices or matches with their current outside clubs. “They can go to group clinics. They can do training,” Heinz said.
“This could be viewed as a step moving forward,” said San Diego Unified School District director of physical education, health, and athletics Scott Giusti, who is the SDUSD representative on the CIF Board of Managers.
“We believe that this is the best, most logical step for our kids,” Heinz said.
The prohibition against a sport-focused physical education class included summer school, intersession, and mini-courses. If at least half the class involved weight training and other sports, the prohibition did not apply, nor did it apply to students who had not yet participated in interscholastic athletics or to students in individual sports who received independent study credit for off-campus participation. The prohibition against such classes during the school day included extended school days.
“It really is not the CIF’s purview,” Heinz said.