Two weeks after eight area high school athletic programs first petitioned to leave the CIF-Southern Section for the Central Section, four more schools are close to joining in.
Initial holdouts Morro Bay, Nipomo, Atascadero and Templeton high schools are expected to join the rest of the group that includes Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, St. Joseph, Pioneer Valley, Righetti, Mission Prep and Paso Robles high schools when representatives travel to Porterville on Oct. 5 to make an official request and presentation to the Central Section.
Templeton, a longtime member of the Central Section and whose coaches voted unanimously for the move last week, ended up being the lead domino — though the decision won’t become official until the Templeton Unified School Board votes on it Thursday.
Morro Bay athletic director John Andree said Wednesday that when he heard Templeton had decided it wanted to move to the Central Section, it greatly influenced his school’s decision.
“We feel like we can be competitive in the Central Section based on our school size,” Andree said. “We are excited about the move.”
Once Morro Bay and Templeton were in, Nipomo athletic director Russ Edwards said his school had no choice.
“That left us as the only SLO County school not going and the only school north of Orcutt not in the Central Section,” Edwards said in a Wednesday phone interview. “Geographically, it just doesn’t make sense. As the dominoes began to fall, it was a decision we had to make. I was hopeful to remain in the Los Padres League.”
Those athletic directors in favor of the move to the Central Section, which is composed mostly of Central Valley schools, said it makes sense both geographically and competitively. Atascadero athletic director Sam DeRose said his school eventually decided to join after discussing it with coaches, community members and the school district.
“I think this opportunity is going to provide us the best chance for our kids to be successful,” DeRose said. “We are excited for the opportunity and pleased that the majority of the schools in the area are joining that movement.”
There is still a lot that has to happen for the move to become official before the start of the 2018-19 school year.
In addition to the Templeton Unified School Board vote, the Central Section must approve the plan and vote on it early next year, the Southern Section must grant a release, and the 12 schools must hash out the alignments of a new two-league system. The current new league model on the table is based on competitive equity with six teams in upper and lower divisions and divided by sport. If all goes to plan, Andree said the biggest thing from here on out will be organization and logistics.
“There will be time to meet and discuss what leagues would look like,” DeRose said. “The framework is there. The final decisions of placement or look of leagues is two years down the road.”