About the time fall sports are ready to kick off each year, the CIF-Southern Section’s hierarchy has a habit of making itself available for interviews
Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod was kind enough to give a bit of his time last week. Here’s what he had to say on a few CIF-related topics:
Q: Are more athletes transferring these days or are we just more aware of it?
A: It’s a little bit of both. If you look at the numbers we had last year statewide, we had like 16,000 something (transfer), and I think that was a spike of a few more. In the Southern Section, we had 120 more transfers in 2016-17 than the year before. So are the numbers that different? I’m not sure.
… There are 800,000 student athletes in the state and about 16,000 transfers so that translates to less than 2 percent. So it isn’t so much the number. It’s maybe that there’s just more focus. There’s more attention being paid. Certainly some of the more high-profile or well-known ones you hear more about, so obviously people think the transferring is rampant. But like I said, it’s kind of a mixed bag.
Q: What impact have you seen from the CIF Federated Council’s decision earlier this year to eliminate some of the wording in bylaws regarding athletically motivated transfers?
A: We were the section who pushed for it, so we were the ones who were out in front of this issue and wanted to see that language removed because we just felt like with the issues of the former school and being unhappy at a former school – as long as there were no other recruiting issues or undue influence issues – do we really care? Do we really care that the coach didn’t play your son or daughter enough? Do we really care that the style of offense that they run at the school (you left) is not the style of offense that showcases your child?
… You’re saying, ‘Well, they left because they couldn’t play point guard at the school.’ Alright, so what? As long as they weren’t recruited, those are the kind of things we focused on and I think those were good things and I think the impact is that now it’s much more consistent in applying that particular part of the bylaw.
We can apply following a coach or transferring to where your club coach is. Those are easy to validate and apply consistently. But when one student leaves a school after the parent met with the coach 10 times and said, ‘You’re not playing my child in the right position,’ and another student transfers and never says a word, the one whose parent met the coach 10 times, their eligibility gets held up. And the parents and kid who didn’t say a word, that kid is free to go. That’s what we were finding ourselves doing.
Q: In your monthly “A Message from the Commissioner” released Aug. 1, you said that Southern Section playoff attendance has significantly decreased over the last several years. What are some contributing factors?
A: I honestly don’t know. I think that’s why we wanted to make that a goal this year and see if we could do some more promotion and work with the schools on ways to try to increase attendance. We’ve seen a little bit of a decline here since that really great year (three years ago) when we were able to return every single dime back to the schools in terms of their membership dues. That’s about a half million dollars that we were able to return, so we were really excited about that, and we wanted to see how we can try to help and give the schools some ideas and see if we can turn that around. … In October, I’m going to put out some information for (schools) and give them some tools on different ways to promote games and ideas to bring people out and get the community involved.
Q: Could ticket prices be a factor?
A: The ticket prices are the same. They haven’t changed. There’s a change in the system with our new competitive playoff system, but I’d hate to think that having closer games and new teams getting chances to be successful would actually decrease attendance. You’d kind of think the opposite (would be true). I don’t know.
Q: How much does Southern Section membership cost?
A: I will tell you I think it’s one of the greatest bargains you’ll ever find. It’s $50 a sport. So, if a school offers 20 sports, it’s $1,000. That’s our membership dues. … I think it’s around 65 to 70 percent of our schools that will get that money back and more by playoff revenue with that 40 percent share that goes back.
Q: How does playoff revenue sharing work?
A: (For) all of our revenue sports, we pay all expenses (officials, venue rental, medical coverage, etc.), then we return 40 percent of the net revenue back. That amounts to $1.5 million approximately a year. If there’s a year where that 1.5 became a $2 million return, then that means we can return that much more back to the schools, and that’s really to everyone’s benefit. It’s truly a partnership, and I think that might be something we really want to emphasize with our schools: All of us are in it together.