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Sylmar Admits to Breaking the Rules : Football: School administrator confirms some Spartans practiced against players from Pierce College.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Sylmar High administrator on Thursday admitted to the City Section that the school’s football team committed rules violations this week by participating in a practice against players from Pierce College.

City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege said the infractions will be reviewed by the Rules Committee during its first meeting of the year Sept. 14. The season opener is Sept. 9.

Sylmar receivers and backs participated against Pierce in a non-contact exercise similar to a passing-league competition Tuesday. Sylmar Coach Jeff Engilman admitted that the practice took place, but said he was unaware that any violations were committed.

Fiege said Sylmar, which won the 1992 City 4-A Division title and usually ranks among the area’s most-successful programs, broke two rules:

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* The City’s off-season ended Aug. 1, with the beginning of the conditioning period. During conditioning, teams are permitted to hold only non-contact intrasquad workouts.

* Sylmar committed a violation by practicing against a team with players whose ages excened the limit for California Interscholastic Federation eligibility. Also, interaction with college players is specifically forbidden in the City, Fiege said.

Fiege reiterated that it is the coach’s responsibility to understand the rules.

“Ignorance hasn’t gotten anybody anywhere around here,” she said tersely.

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Dan Wyatt, an assistant principal at Sylmar, referred calls regarding the violations to Principal Linda Ambro. Wyatt met with Engilman Thursday morning to discuss the incident and admitted the violations to Fiege. Ambro did not return phone calls and Engilman could not be reached for comment.

Fiege would not predict what sanctions Sylmar could face, but said they may not be as severe as first believed.

A review of disciplinary measures levied against Sylmar last season for holding an improper team meeting revealed that the team’s probationary period was not for one year, as Fiege initially believed, but for the 1993 season only.

Sylmar administrators pointed out the oversight Thursday. Fiege was under the impression that the team was placed on notice for 12 months, the typical probationary period for City rules violations. Taft’s football team, for example, is serving one calendar year of probation for committing a violation for undue influence on a prospect earlier this summer.

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“It took me a while to figure that out,” Fiege said. "(But) I’m not saying the penalties are going to be any less or any more.”

However, Engilman is currently serving probation of an indeterminate length imposed by Sylmar officials, Fiege said.

The incident marks the second time in less than a year that Sylmar has been called on the carpet by the City. Last Labor Day weekend, a Sylmar team meeting held during a dead period was videotaped by an assistant coach from a rival school. Engilman said he believed the team was prohibited only from practicing.

The coach maintained that the meeting was held to distribute uniforms, though Sylmar players were filmed lifting weights. In addition to probation, Sylmar was ordered to forgo two practice sessions.

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Last spring, at least two Sylmar football players were arrested during an on-campus drug sweep by the Los Angeles Police Department, which had conducted a lengthy undercover operation at the school.


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