He Will Pick Up Where Plutko Leaves Off : Stan Thomas Is Preparing for Role as Commissioner
Before too long, Stan Thomas thinks he’ll be wearing his new title of Southern Section commissioner like a comfortable pair of old shoes.
Thomas, 55, is wrapping up his responsibilities as district administrator for commerce and technology at Tustin Unified School District.
Beginning July 1, Thomas will take over as the section’s sixth commissioner, succeeding Ray Plutko, who announced in February that he would resign to become head of the Colorado High School Activities Assn.
Even though Thomas estimated that it will take six months to a year to adjust to the new position, he said he feels confident he will be able to pick up where Plutko left off.
“I saw Tom Byrnes (CIF State commissioner) the other day and he called the Southern Section a ‘well-oiled machine’ and I think that’s a good description,” Thomas said.
“It’s been so well-managed and had so many good commissioners that what I want to do is to perpetuate the quality athletic program they’ve established. I plan on being a very visible ambassador for Southern Section athletics.”
Thomas has begun attending meetings of the section’s 62 leagues and eventually plans to meet with representatives from all of them.
“I just want to meet with them on their own turf to see what their problems and needs are, to see what suggestions they have, to see how we can help them.”
Those who have worked with Thomas in recent years describe him as a people person, one who listens to all sides before acting on an issue.
Ted Mullen, Foothill High School football coach, liked what he saw when Thomas was the principal there from 1980-84.
“He’s very thorough, very well-read and very knowledgeable,” Mullen said. “If you present Stan with a well-documented, logical argument, he’ll do everything he can to help your problem. He might not always agree with you, but he’ll listen and be very fair about it.”
Thomas will need such skills in helping settle the recent pay dispute between the section and the football referees.
“That’s a big one,” Thomas said. “We want to have that one in place by the fall. But remember, the (Executive) Council rejected their request for additional funds. Hopefully, we’ll find a way to resolve that.”
Another area of immediate concern for Thomas is keeping track of what goes on in Sacramento.
“There’s a Senate bill (proposed) right now that calls for all extra activities to take place after school,” Thomas noted. This bill would effectively eliminate the sixth-period athletics class that most schools give their athletes to begin their daily training.
“We never want to see local control of such matters eliminated,” Thomas said. “The State CIF has a good lobbyist in Sacramento and we’ll want to help anyway we can within that framework.”
Eventually, he hopes to see an expansion of the corporate sponsorship of Southern Section events begun by Plutko’s administration.
“I really believe it can generate big numbers,” Thomas said.
“Through a foundation program, if you get a commitment from industry, you can see money into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and not just twenty or thirty thousand. I think we’ve only scratched the surface there.”
Thomas will work with Plutko on such matters through the end of July before Plutko moves on to assume his duties in Colorado.
When he went from Foothill to the district office to become administrator for commerce and technology in 1984, he found that he missed the day-to-day contact with the local athletic community that he had enjoyed for so long.
“When you’re a principal you’re constantly dealing with teachers, parents, coaches, athletes and other principals,” Thomas said. “So when you leave the high school for the district office, you do become a little isolated from those contacts, yes. So I’m really looking forward to the public relations end (of the new position).”