Mater Dei-CIF legal fight continues

CIF attorney fees have surpassed $109,000, the federation's executive director says. No new trial date has been set in the case alleging bias toward the Catholic high school's student athletes.

A lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and Santa Ana Mater Dei against the CIF Southern Section lives on, and attorney fees for the CIF have exceeded $109,000, CIF Executive Director Roger Blake said Monday.

A status conference is scheduled for Nov. 5 in Orange County Superior Court. No trial date has been scheduled after a previous date last February was vacated.

The status conference will come just days after a scheduled Oct. 29 vote at the CIF State Federated Council, where Mater Dei and the Trinity League are supporting a proposal that would remove the wording "athletically motivated transfer" from all CIF rules.

If the proposal passes, it could influence discussions involving attorneys and Judge Gregory H. Lewis, who is overseeing the lawsuit, which challenges the CIF's jurisdiction and decision-making process over transfers of athletes between schools.

But there's no guarantee the proposal will be approved by a majority of the 10 sections that make up the CIF. Last week, the City Section's Interscholastic Athletic Committee voted unanimously to oppose the proposal.

Depositions have been taking place, and former CIF Executive Director Marie Ishida is expected to be deposed early next month.

That should be an intriguing deposition, considering Ishida was quoted by the Sacramento Bee in March as calling the lawsuit "reprehensible."

The two parties tried to resolve the case last year through mediation but failed.

Mater Dei has alleged that former Southern Section Commissioner Jim Staunton demonstrated bias toward its student athletes and that the section had acted in a "discriminatory manner" in how rules were enforced and applied toward its student athletes.

Staunton has yet to be deposed.

Battle in South Bay

The South Bay is fertile ground when it comes to attracting top youth football players, and that makes Friday night's showdown between Gardena Serra and Harbor City Narbonne so important.

Both schools, one private and the other public, are trying to make a memorable impression on future players and their parents. Serra is 4-0. Narbonne is 3-0. There should be a sold-out stadium at Serra.

"It's going to be an electric atmosphere," Narbonne Coach Manuel Douglas said.

If Narbonne can get past Serra and Mater Dei over the next two weeks, the Gauchos will be in an ideal position to make a run at a 14-0 regular season and be a sure choice to be selected for a CIF state regional bowl game.

The Gauchos' defense has yet to allow a touchdown. Their defensive line and linebackers have played so well that it's difficult to break off a big play against them.

But Serra has just as many top athletes as Narbonne. Cornerback Adoree' Jackson had a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown last week that was nullified because of a penalty. He also caught a touchdown pass and forced a fumble. Quarterback Jalen Greene has the ability to run and pass.

The versatility of Narbonne quarterback Troy Williams will test a good Cavaliers defense.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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