Southern Section moves to ‘competitive equity playoff model’ for all sports 

West Ranch celebrates their win against Burroughs on Thursday. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal
West Ranch celebrates their win against Burroughs on Thursday. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

After testing out the system with football, the CIF Southern Section has approved a competitive equity playoff model for all sports starting in the 2024-25 school year. 

What does this mean? 

Essentially, teams won’t know what playoff division they’ll be placed in before the season, with the current season results used to seed teams and place them in divisions. 

“It’s been great for football,” said Tim Walsh, athletic director at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach, via the livestream of the meeting on YouTube. “We feel that teams are qualified to have the opportunity to compete for a championship with teams that are comparable. We feel like the same model can be followed in all team sports.” 

Canyon High School boys’ basketball head coach Ali Monfared is looking forward to seeing how the system is implemented. From what he knows, he thinks using the current construction of teams, rather than using the previous two years to place teams, will benefit the playoffs as a whole. 

“To me, it doesn’t really make sense that two years ago has any ranking on what we’re doing this year,” Monfared said in a phone interview. “I think it’s going to be a situation where you’re ranking teams and you’re going to find out at the end of the year, it’s a little bit more of a fair sample size of what the year is about.” 

Under the current system, Monfared knew that his Cowboys would be in Division 3AA for playoffs. Knowing which teams are the ones to look for come playoff time is something that may be missed with the new system, Monfared said, but the pros will likely outweigh the cons. 

“It gives you an idea of how many at-larges are available, you can see who’s in your bracket,” Monfared said. “So, that part’s nice, but the thing about it that makes it challenging is our league is really challenging. So, if you don’t automatically (get in), you can put yourself in that position where it’s harder to make it. But on the flip side, if you do get in, then you’re generally going to be in more of a bracket that I think is more appropriate for some of the teams that we would be playing.” 

The following team sports would see the new system utilized beginning next year: 

  • Fall: girls’ golf; girls’ tennis; girls’ volleyball; and boys’ water polo. 
  • Winter: boys’ basketball; girls’ basketball; boys’ soccer; and girls’ soccer. 
  • Spring: baseball; beach volleyball; boys’ golf; boys’ lacrosse; girls’ lacrosse; softball; boys’ tennis; and boys’ volleyball. 

Individual sports, or sports with an individual component to go along with a team component, will not be moving to the new system. 

Teams that do not report scores to the section would be ineligible for the playoffs, according to Jim Perry, president of the section council. 

Football teams in the section have been placed into divisions based on their CalPreps rankings, a computer-ranking system. Monfared isn’t sure exactly what system will be used for basketball but is sure that whatever it is, it will be good for everyone. 

“There’s still a lot of things that I, like most coaches, we’re still going to find some new things out with how things play out,” Monfared said. “But I think that the new system is definitely going to be better than the one we have right now.” 

Perry added that he’s heard other state athletic associations questioning if the new system is viable for every sport. He said the new model is one that will be scrutinized, but if it works, other states may be looking at it as an option. 

“The fact that this just passed puts us in a very extraordinary position,” Perry said. “There are not many people around the country that understand what we’re doing or how we’re doing it. And there are a lot of people around the country watching what we’re doing and trying to figure out if it’ll work for them or not. So, thank you for your foresight. Thank you for your willingness to do what’s best for our playoff system.” 

The motion was approved 79-8. 

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