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High School Sports

Southern Section Council approves new football playoff format

Southern Section held a virtual meeting with 91 league representatives on Thursday.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod called it a “historic meeting” on Thursday as 91 league representatives logged into their home computers and phones to conduct a 3 1/2-hour virtual gathering that featured 20 roll-call votes to approve or disapprove motions and action items involving CIF state and Southern Section issues.

While there was some initial issues such as too many people not muting their microphones, resulting in noise feedback, the meeting was successfully pulled off at a time when large in-person meetings are banned because of COVID-19 social distancing measures.

The most anticipated vote was approved 80-4, with six leagues abstaining, to implement a new football playoff format that will begin this fall. Teams will be placed in divisions at the end of the season based on what they do in 2020. In the past, teams were placed in divisions before the season based on previous two years of performance.

For example, it will prevent schools that went winless last season, changed coaches, picked up transfers and suddenly became too good for the lower division they were placed in because of past performance. Now that school would be put in a division based on competitive equity in 2020. The hope by the Southern Section is a more accurate and balanced playoff draw and every team that earns an automatic playoff berth will be included in the brackets.

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The Southern Section Council voted 46-39-5 to support a proposal that would provide an exception allowing cheerleaders to compete in a Sunday national championship competition. It must become a state rule before cheerleaders are cleared to compete.

Orange County administrator James Perry was elected president elect of the Executive Committee. The Southern Section is projecting a $12,000 profit for the 2019-20 budget despite sports stoppage this spring.

Wigod said “all options are on the table for fall sports.” He said as schools open campuses this fall, the Southern Section will fit a calendar around regular season and championship events.

He said the CIF is close to coming up with potential accommodations on financial hardship waivers, academic eligibility issues and problems with getting physicals for athletes to get clearance to compete.


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