CIF Champs in National Title Events?

The creation today of the State Champions Invitational, a boys and girls basketball tournament for selected championship teams, was announced by Skokie, Ill.-based Paragon Marketing Group. The inaugural event will take place April 7-9 in Florida. The event is a spin-off of GEICO Nationals, an end-of-season hoops tournament which combined both eligible state champions and highly-ranked independent programs (See full story from HERE).

Four selected championship teams (both boys and girls) belonging to the state associations of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Washington, D.C., as sanctioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will now be selected for the State Champions Invitational. Previously, those selected teams participated in GEICO Nationals, which will now continue on for the 14th year with independent, academy-type programs only. GEICO Nationals takes place March 31-April 2 in Florida.

The thought process of event organizers in creating the State Champions Invitational and removing the independent clubs from the equation is to increase the chances of attracting new state association champions to the fold. In recent years, more state associations have placed schedule restrictions on member programs and that makes the State Champions Invitational a more attractive option for full NFHS members going forward.

California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) member schools have never been allowed to participate at GEICO Nationals and are currently not eligible for the State Champions Invitational. So what would it to take for the CIF’s open boys and girls champ to be eligible?

According to CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti, California schools that are members of the CIF currently cannot play any games representing their school after the end-of-season date, which is when the last CIF state championship game is concluded, according to according to the CIF bylaws. This year the CIF state championships in basketball are scheduled to take place March 11-12 at the Golden One Center in Sacramento.

In order for California basketball teams to play in something similar to a national championship event such as the State Champions Invitational would require a change in the bylaws. Bylaw changes can be proposed by a school, a league or one of the CIF’s 10 sections and would require a vote of approval by the CIF Federated Council.

For some state associations, their basketball championships are conducted even earlier than the CIF’s, and the long delay to the date for an event such as the State Champions Invitational could be problematic. On the other hand, high school student-athletes already participate in national events in such activities as cheerleading and having other full member governing bodies approve participation could sway voting of current bylaws.

There also are California teams in boys and girls cross country that have been and still are running at annual national invitationals that are held after the CIF season has ended. This past December, at the Garmin RunningLane championships held in Alabama (held there since the usual Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon was cancelled), runners from the Newbury Park XC Club (technically not representing Newbury Park High) went 1-2-3 in leading that squad to a mythical national title. Could a Sierra Canyon Boys BB Club, La Jolla CD Girls BB Club or a Corona Centennial Boys BB Club be done in the same way?

Without a new rule passed at the CIF Federated Council, using the club option as done for cross country may be the only way a California boys or girls basketball team is ever going to be able to play in the new State Champions Invitational.

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