[Wm. S. Hart School District] – The Hart School District reported that the Hart High School football program violated a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) “undue influence” rule, resulting in the ineligibility of a few 9th and 10th graders who played this season. Hart High School has taken immediate action to remedy the situation.
CIF Bylaw 510 is the prima facie undue influence rule and states that a student who has played for a coach at one school and chooses to follow a relocated coach to his new school is in violation of this rule, regardless of having proper intra-district transfer approvals filed. Under this rule, a student may receive sanctions including having restricted eligibility for one year or may re-enroll at the school of their residence. This rule also applies to players of youth sports clubs and teams where the student and family choose to continue with the same coach when the student enters high school. Several students played for a current Hart football coach before entering high school and transferred to his school, instead of attending their school of residence and playing football there.
“We were in violation of a CIF rule, and we are working hard to ensure all of our programs are in compliance,” Hart High Principal Collyn Nielsen said. “I appreciate being made aware of the violation so we can address it in a timely and appropriate manner.”
Superintendent Robert Challinor expressed concern about the impact on student athletes, but indicated that it is critical that all Hart School District schools follow the regulations set forth by the CIF.
“I fully support the appropriate actions taken by Principal Nielsen and his staff on accepting responsibility for this violation and reporting it promptly to CIF,” Challinor said. “We do believe that Hart High School has not intentionally violated the rules.”
Following CIF’s review and recommendations, Hart High School has decided the players involved will have restricted eligibility next season. CIF ruled this matter as closed on Dec. 1, 2011.
“As a result of this coming to our attention, we will be working with each school in the District to ensure that all relevant CIF regulations are being followed,” Challinor said. “This review will encompass all sports, at all levels, for boys and girls.”
The Hart School District is committed to ensuring that all schools are held to the same level of accountability for CIF regulations that govern athletics.