Q&A: Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod offers ‘exit’ interview on major topics
Unless the Dodgers offer a coaching job, Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said Wednesday he has made no plans yet for what his life will look like after he ends his 12-year reign on Aug. 1, 2023.
“Offers can be accepted,” he joked.
Wigod, a former baseball coach before he entered the administrative field, announced on Aug. 2 that this would be his final year as commissioner of the largest section in the CIF.
In a 20-minute interview Wednesday, he offered insights into his decision, spoke about his office’s accomplishments, his regrets and hopes for the challenges facing high school sports. He’s fired up and committed to doing all he can in his final year to finish on a high note.
Why did you decide to step down as commissioner?
“This is my 40th year in education coming up. I’ve had incredible opportunities to be involved with education-based athletes and high school sports for so long and felt it was the right time. We got through the pandemic and got through the most challenging times we’ve faced. This would be a good time to hang it up.”
What do you think will be your greatest accomplishments as commissioner?
“There have been several things I’m very proud of, but it’s been a collaboration with member schools, the executive committee and staff. The competitive equity playoff model has made a major difference. Things like our CIF Home platform has revolutionized how administrators do their work. The online ticketing commitment we made has made a huge difference. I think our financial position has been incredible. We’ve been able to return membership dues and waive dues for 2022-23. Our 100th anniversary was a huge celebration. There’s still more to do.”
Eric Sondheimer, who has been covering high school sports in Southern California for more than 40 years, provides weekly updates on everything you need to know.
Any regrets about things you haven’t been able to complete?
“There’s certainly regrets. The changing climate, where there are those trying to make high school athletics into a business, which has a huge impact on the transfer situation. I believe in purity of high school athletics. I don’t like seeing outside forces have an effect of taking away some of the innocence high school athletics should have.”
Ron Nocetti, the CIF executive director, is making it a point of emphasis this fall to discuss what high school sports is about and is not about. Your job has been to preserve the integrity of the high school sports experience. But is the genie out of the bottle for good in terms of transfers and the focus on winning?
“If you look back in the archives, I wrote my first message as commissioner in 2011, and it was exactly that topic. We’re the education-based athletics environment. We’re the only ones that do this trying to educate the entire student physically, emotionally, socially providing the platform for life lessons that we believe come from the high school athletics arena. Who we are not is a business focused completely on college and professional opportunities. That percentage involved is a very small percentage. We believe we’re special and unique. However, there are outside forces and have found a market and found folks who are willing to receive those kinds of services on what students will do beyond their school years.”
How many times has anybody been disciplined for undue influence?
“We’ve had several hundred. The ones publicized are the ones involving programs because the power of the Southern Section office is to sanction programs. A lot of these involved personnel matters. The goal has been when cases are discovered, the wrongdoers are punished. We don’t have the direct power to sanction, discipline, deal with personnel issues, but their supervisors do.”
Are you prepared to have a four-team Division 1 football playoff bracket if four teams are way better than everyone else?
“I will commit to you and everyone out there we will do what we always said we would do, at the end of the regular season, we will formulate divisions based on power rankings.”
Offensive lineman Raymond Pulido has returned to Apple Valley High after spending the spring at St. John Bosco. He knows what big-time football is about.
Any recommendation for your eventual successor on how to prepare for the job?
“There’s no manual to read, no step-by-step instructions how to become commissioner. It’s something you have to learn as you go. It’s a unique position. It’s something you have to roll with after you get used to it. You need to listen and learn and know the depth of the section and understand the big picture.”
Will you leave a note in your desk like presidents do for their successor?
“I definitely plan to leave a note, but it would be unfair to tell you.”
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.