Trinity League proposes removal of transfer term from rule books

The Trinity League submitted a proposal Thursday that would remove all references to “athletically motivated transfer” from the Southern Section and CIF rule books.

The proposal, which goes on the agenda for next month’s Southern Section Council meeting as a non-action action, must be approved by the Council before it is sent to the CIF Federated Council for consideration. Students who transfer for athletic reasons are declared ineligible for one year under current rules.

The Southern Section Executive Committee discussed the proposal Thursday, and division among committee members could be an early sign of the difficulty in coming to a resolution on the issue.

Bill Dabbs, president of the Executive Committee, said, “We shouldn’t be in the area of telling a kid he can’t transfer from one school to another if he likes a football team better.”


Nancy Billinger, an administrator in the Redondo Unified School District, expressed concerns about how principals would enforce transfer rules if changes are made without careful thought.

“If we take athletically motivated out of this bylaw, we don’t have a provision to address undue influence,” she said. “We don’t have an investigative arm.”

In support of its proposal, the Trinity League said, “Transfer eligibility rules cannot be enforced in a fair, objective and consistent manner when the terms ‘athletically motivated transfer’ or ‘transferring for athletic reasons’ are involved in the application of bylaws 510, 206, 207, 208 and 200. These terms lack clarity and definition.

“As a result, instead of basing decisions regarding transfer eligibility on the established and tested cornerstones of undue influence, change of residence, hardship waivers and family decision to transfer a student prior to the first day of the student’s third consecutive semester, the CIF Southern Section is allowed to utilize, apply and rely upon the vague, indefinable and malleable terms of ‘athletically motivated transfer’ and ‘transferring for athletic reasons.’ ”

The Trinity League argues that if the term “athletically motivated transfer” is removed, it “would allow the Southern Section to return to fair and objective application of transfer eligibility rules.”

The proposal comes as the Diocese of Orange and Santa Ana Mater Dei are challenging the Southern Section in court, accusing the section of acting in a “discriminatory” manner in how rules are enforced and applied toward its student athletes. An attempt to settle the suit through mediation failed this month, and a jury trial is scheduled for February. Southern Section attorney J. Scott Donald appeared in a closed session of the Executive Committee meeting to give members an update on the lawsuit.

“I would like to see it get settled,” Donald said afterward.

The Executive Committee could end up making a recommendation to support or oppose the Trinity League proposal at its next meeting.