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Harsher penalties for poor sportsmanship
Football playoffs, NorCal baseball & hoops finals venue change discussed
CIF Sac Joaquin Section discussed moving the baseball season up a week earlier for the upcoming season and having the playoff format be 16-team brackets in each division with single elimination for the first two games followed by a best-of-three semifinal series and a winner-take-all final (Journal file photo).

The consequences for being more naughty than nice have become more severe for California high school athletes.

A variety of rule changes were discussed Friday at Media Day hosted by the CIF Sac Joaquin Section office, with playoffs taking up the lion’s share of the discussion.

But the most significant development was CIF bylaw 503.M — “CIF Sportsmanship and Ejection.” Ratified in May of last year, the statewide mandate breaks ejections into two categories — fighting and reasons other than fighting.

In the past, ejection meant removal for that game and suspension for the next. For reasons other than fighting, that consequence remains the same. A repeat ejection now yields a three-game suspension and a third end’s the player’s season.

Fighting, along with assaultive behavior and gross unsportsmanlike conduct, is a suspension of from three to six games for the first infraction and there is no second chance as the second infraction ends the season.

Consequences for a coach are more severe. For reasons other than fighting, a one-game suspension is the punishment, but the second ejection yields a three-to-six game suspension. A third ejection ends the coach’s season.

Fighting, assaultive behavior and gross unsportsmanlike conduct brings disqualification for the remainder of the season. If less than six games remain in the season, the punishment for up to six games would carry over to the following season.

Single-game suspensions cannot be appealed, multiple-game suspensions can.

Other noteworthy topics discussed at the meeting:

·         The SJS uses mainly enrollment-based criteria for playoffs as opposed to other sections that employ competitive equity. Prior success, defined as winning three consecutive Section titles, will bump a team up one division and a Section title at the higher division will bump the team up another level. A team will drop a level if it fails to make the playoffs in one season or fails to make the semifinals two seasons in a row.

·         Boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball and girls volleyball have top-nine league qualifiers where the top nine leagues in each sport are awarded an extra playoff slot in addition to the three awarded to all leagues. The Valley Oak League will receive an extra playoff slot in all five sports, the Trans-Valley League in all but baseball, the Southern League in baseball, softball and boys soccer and the Western Athletic Conference in baseball.

·         In football, with the exception of Division VII, which will have an eight-team playoff bracket, all other divisions will be 12-team brackets with four league champions and the remaining eight teams selected by Cal Preps ranking. The league champions will enjoy a first-week bye. There may be some slight tweaks to this formula due to prior success and teams unable to play no more than one division below their league designation.

·         Golden 1 Arena will not host the SJS basketball championships this season due to scheduling conflicts so the venue is changed to the Stockton Arena which will be hosting the SJS wrestling championships the week before.

·         With the advent of NorCal championships in baseball, the traditional Memorial Day championship games for the SJS are no more. The NorCal championships begin Memorial Day weekend, so the baseball season begins a week earlier now and the playoff format will be 16-team brackets in each division with single elimination for the first two games followed by a best-of-three semifinal series and a winner-take-all final.