Here is the complete text of a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon by the CIF state office regarding the Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland girls basketball team, which was disqualified for the CIF North Coast Section playoffs due to violation of a rule about playing too many regular season games. In this case, the Dragons played one more over the limit.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) today issued the following statement in response to media inquiries about the disqualification of Bishop O’Dowd High School’s girls’ basketball team from this year’s North Coast Section (NCS) playoffs and CIF State Basketball Open Division, due to a NCS rule violation.
SACRAMENTO — It is unfortunate that this rule violation has occurred. The Bishop O’Dowd girls’ basketball team was in violation of a NCS rule and this has resulted in their disqualification from Section playoffs and ended their season, which the school has acknowledged. This rule was established by the approval of the NCS’s 169 member high schools.
During the past week, the CIF has received an online petition asking that the CIF reinstate the Bishop O’Dowd girls’ basketball team and overturn the NCS playoff eligibility rule so the team can participate in this year’s CIF State Basketball Open Division.
As the CIF has previously stated, teams can only qualify for and advance to the CIF State Tournament through their respective Section playoffs as the CIF State Tournament is an extension of the Section playoffs. Given that Bishop O’Dowd was disqualified from NCS playoffs, they are not eligible to qualify for the CIF Regional State Tournament including, the Open Division. On January 23, 2013, over a year ago, NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmon issued a memo explaining that entries into the CIF State Open Division come directly from the Section tournament qualifiers. This memo was sent to all NCS member high schools.
While the CIF certainly appreciates the passion of those in the Bishop O’Dowd community, the CIF has no legal authority to overturn the rule established by the 169 member high schools of the NCS.
It’s good that the CIF issued this statement well in advance in this weekend’s section finals to erase any and all possible speculation about the O’Dowd girls being able to be reinstated for the NorCal Open Division playoffs.
If they wanted to erase that speculation even faster, the only criticism we have is for the CIF to now add a line to every document that is ever presented anywhere that is about criteria for inclusion into the open division of any regional or state playoff. That line needs to make it clear that the first and most important part of the criteria is that all teams need to qualify for their own section playoffs.
That line was not printed on the list of Open Division criteria for boys and girls basketball and that led to some speculation for at least 24 hours that the O’Dowd girls still might be able to qualify. In the instant age of Twitter and the internet, it’s not always possible to pick up the phone and try to reach a CIF official for an immediate interpretation. Therefore, the CIF should strive to spell out its criteria in all of these complicated playoff formats as clearly as possible. It’s been our main point of criticism with the organization for quite awhile now.
The writing of the Open Division rules in Southern Section is just as bad in this, its first year having an Open Sectional Division. Rule 5 states IN ITS ENTIRETY, “Open Division teams not eligible or not selected to the State Open Division, will be placed back into their respective CIF-SS divisions for the State Playoffs.” If you read that like I do, it basically says that the worst you can do if you get plucked from your Divisional Playoff, into the open Division, is still end up back in that division for State. But, not so fast my friend…We have come to learn that “placed” means available for an At Large Selection. It does not mean that the team is actually placed in the State tournament. Amazing…
Bottom line is that it will be stunning if any of the CIFSS Open Division teams are not playing next week. When you’re No. 16 seed pushes one of the best teams in the nation to overtime, that pretty much says it all. I can’t even see Buckley at 30-1 getting into the D4 SoCal bracket in front of the four CIFSS Open Division teams bouncing back down to D4 or the four CIFSS D4-AA, D4-A finalists. That’s not a knock against Buckley but that’s how many top teams are D4 in the Southern Section.