The list of schools that will play in an open division this upcoming season in boys and girls basketball at the section level just got a lot bigger as the CIF Southern Section announced on Thursday it will begin conducting such a division for the upcoming season.
In reality, the CIFSS Open Division isn’t going to be drastically different than the top division that the section already had in previous seasons since a majority of the powerhouse programs were in that division. This does give a CIFSS blue ribbon committee the ability, however, to move up teams that might have been Division I-A in the past or even from Division IV-AA.
Think Bishop Montgomery boys last year when the Knights were unbeaten late in the season and were headed to a divisional playoff bracket not quite as loaded as Division I-AA. In this system, a team like that could be chosen for the new Open Division.
“We believe the Open Division will showcase the most elite teams drawn from every league in section,” said CIF-SS Commissioner of Athletics Rob Wigod. “I want to express my sincere thanks to Assistant Commissioner Rainer Wulf and the CIFSS Basketball Advisory Committee for all of their hard work and extra efforts in moving our section forward.”
The CIF Central Coast Section was the first section in the state to have its own open division for boys and girls basketball last season. The CCS also has had an open division in football for many years.
In the CCS format last year, Open Division teams were guaranteed a berth in the NorCal regional tournament and there also was a consolation bracket. The Southern Section format announced Thursday also calls for a consolation bracket.
Last spring, the CIF San Diego Section voted to have an open division in many sports, including boys and girls basketball.
There may be limits to the growth of open divisions, however, in other places in the state. At a recent media event at the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section office, commissioner Pete Saco said there was no movement in that regard for that section.
This is progress. Now if the Sections would do the right thing, go the next step, and allow a state playoff in football and basketball, we would have something.