Settlement opens the way for all high school sports to resume in California

Marlon Gardinera
Coach Marlon Gardinera of Scripps-Ranch High School in San Diego announces the court settlement.

Lawyers representing high school athletes in San Diego who won a temporary restraining order to resume sports in San Diego County announced Thursday that they have reached a settlement that would allow all sports to resume statewide when a county reaches adjusted COVID-19 case rates of 14.0 per 100,000 people. All indoor sports would require testing of athletes and coaches.

“All sports can resume in the state of California as a result of this lawsuit in San Diego County,” said Marlon Gardinera, the football coach at Scripps Ranch High and father of one of the plaintiffs. “We’re trying to clear a path for kids.”

It will still be up to each school and district whether to allow indoor sports such as basketball, wrestling and volleyball. Outdoor sports have been cleared to resume throughout Southern California with testing for football and water polo athletes when the adjusted case rate for COVID-19 reaches 14.0 per 100,000. Testing is not required at 7.0 or less for outdoor sports. All indoor sports will require testing similar to college and pro teams within at least 48 hours of competition, either daily antigen testing or periodic PCR testing.

Attorney Stephen Grebing said the state will not cover testing costs for sports other than football, water polo and rugby. He said each participant will be allowed to have four spectators in attendance. But he indicated the California Interscholastic Federation and individual counties must agree to the settlement before it is resolved.


Updated guidelines were posted Thursday night by the California Department of Public Health showing expansive testing requirements and procedures schools must follow for indoor sports to take place. The only way out appears to be if indoor sports reach the orange tier.

Terry Barnum, head of athletics at Studio City Harvard-Westlake, said: “If the state, the county and CIF all say we can do indoor sports, we will do it with the protocols asked of us.”

Brad Hensley, co-founder of Let Them Play Ca., said: “It now goes down to the local decisions. Please let them play. It’s time. These kids have had nothing for 11 months and they truly need this.”

The first allowable basketball game in the Southern Section is March 12.

Statement from the Southern Section: “It is our understanding that the California Department of Public Health will be updating its Youth Sports Guidance based on a settlement agreement reached in a litigation matter pending in San Diego County. It is further our understanding that the settlement agreement is not yet available for review. We are therefore reserving comment on the terms of the agreement until it is finalized. Until such time, it is our understanding that the current CDPH Youth Sports Guidance remains in effect pending the publication of any updated CDPH guidance.”