In a break from national high school athletic rules, the California Interscholastic Federation council passed a proposal Friday to implement a 35-second shot clock for boys’ basketball beginning next season.
A majority of the CIF’s 10 sections voted for the shot clock at a meeting in Burlingame near San Francisco. California will become the first state to use a shot clock for all divisions of boys’ basketball.
Three states--North Dakota, Massachusetts and Illinois--are experimenting on a limited basis with a shot clock for boys this season.
California has never had a shot clock for boys. Girls’ basketball began using a 30-second clock in 1976.
“Since the pros and colleges are already using a shot clock, it made sense for the high schools to have one too,” said Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley, whose section voted in favor of the proposal. “Our member schools said it’s what they wanted.”
The Los Angeles City Section also voted in favor of the proposal.
The council had the option of adopting a 30-second or 35-second clock. Men’s college basketball uses a 35-second clock; women’s college basketball uses a 30-second clock.
State surveys showed increased support for the shot clock, even though the national high school governing body in Kansas City, Mo., is against it. The CIF, which governs high school sports in the state, can make up its own rules but is discouraged from swaying from national policies.
As a result, California will probably lose its membership on the national basketball committee, which sets uniform rules for all 50 states.
“You’re not playing high school to model college or pro unless there’s a good reason to have the same rules,” said Dick Schindler, chairman of the national basketball rules committee. “And there’s not.”
Mike Boyd, the boys’ basketball coach at Palos Verdes Peninsula, agrees.
“This is another example of high school basketball answering to the whims of college and professional basketball,” Boyd said. “We have this flux of people who are spending too much time worrying about Showtime and not what high school basketball is all about.”
The proposal was first brought before the CIF council last October to be considered for this season, but it was tabled until Friday. It had no trouble passing on its second reading, which isn’t surprising since a CIF survey in July showed 76% of principals, athletic directors and coaches favored a shot clock.
Glendora Coach Mike LeDuc said most of the coaches he has spoken with favor the shot clock.
“I think there will be a lot of reaction right away, but I think it will quickly die down,” LeDuc said. “When the three-point shot was implemented a few years ago, everyone was talking about it. Now you don’t hear a thing.”
Boyd was less philosophical.
“For the teams that are less talented and athletic, this will take away their ability to slow the game down and run a four-corners offense.” he said. “It helps the good athletic teams that didn’t need it.”
One potential problem is cost. Since some shot clocks used by the girls don’t go past 30 seconds, schools will have to buy new clocks that can go to 35 seconds.
“It’s never easy asking already cash-strapped schools to come up with more money,” Crowley said.