Holcomb Seeks Legal Action Against CIF
Buzz Holcomb is tired of being pushed around and has decided to push back. The Westlake Village salesman who opened his home to young athletes from a disadvantaged neighborhood in Pacoima will seek legal action against the California Interscholastic Federation in an effort to overturn an eligibility ruling.
James Armstrong, Holcomb’s lawyer, will seek the court order in Ventura as early as Monday. Holcomb will ask a judge to rescind a Southern Section ruling that denied athletic eligibility on academic grounds to his son Erik, Brian Brison and Mukasa Crowe, three freshmen at Westlake High. The action also will name Westlake High, the Conejo Valley Unified School District and the Southern Section, Armstrong said.
Holcomb decided to take legal action after a Friday telephone call between CIF Commissioner Thomas Byrnes and Armstrong, who characterized Byrnes as “vindictive, insulting and condescending.”
Byrnes was unavailable for comment.
Armstrong was pursuing Holcomb’s appeal of a Southern Section ruling that denied athletic eligibility for one semester to the three boys after Holcomb withdrew them from a private school in Thousand Oaks in February and sent them to a private tutor.
CIF rules stipulate that students must have passed at least 20 hours of work at the completion of the last regular grading period. All three students were repeating the eighth grade despite successfully completing that level the previous year.
After the Southern Section rejected Holcomb’s appeal, Armstrong contacted Byrnes, whom Armstrong claimed was uncooperative and refused to set a date for the appeal.
Armstrong claimed that the CIF is punishing Holcomb because of his alleged recruiting violations. The Southern Section exonerated Holcomb of undue-influence charges at a hearing last month.
“They can’t prove recruiting so they’re getting back at the Holcomb family and these kids this way,” Armstrong said. “They’re being retaliatory and vindictive. Buzz is being punished for doing something he should be commended for. The CIF is sending the message, ‘Don’t help these kids or you’ll get punished.’ ”