High School Sports

High school sports league proposal takes shape under potential Central Section move

The San Luis Obispo football team plays host to Pioneer Valley in a non-league game Saturday at San Luis Obispo High School. Under a proposed plan, San Luis Obispo would move from the CIF-Southern Section to the Central Section.
The San Luis Obispo football team plays host to Pioneer Valley in a non-league game Saturday at San Luis Obispo High School. Under a proposed plan, San Luis Obispo would move from the CIF-Southern Section to the Central Section. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

Last week, a group of eight Central Coast high schools made a bold move by petitioning to leave the CIF-Southern Section for the Central Section in 2018. A clearer picture emerged Wednesday of what that might look like.

In a document obtained by The Tribune, athletic directors in favor of the move laid out what leagues in each sport could look like in what they are calling a “competitive equity league” model. The leagues are arranged based on team success in each sport with an upper league — containing the most successful teams — and a lower league made up of teams that have struggled in recent years.

The model would allow for shifting based on success and could be realigned each year.

The document released to The Tribune has two possibilities — one for a league with 10 teams and one for a league with 12 teams, depending on how many schools agree to the Central Section move — each split evenly. The eight athletic directors have proposed the move to the Central Section to alleviate playoff travel time to Southern California schools in the Southern Section, while also evening the playing field by competing against schools mostly from the Central Valley rather than the Los Angeles area.

For football, the current PAC 5 — Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Righetti, Atascadero and San Luis Obispo — would add St. Joseph, a team with a track record of playoff success, and subtract San Luis Obispo, a team that has struggled to make the playoffs in recent years. It’s a move that local athletic directors said would make the leagues more fair and balanced. SLO High football would be moved to a league with Northern League teams Templeton, Mission Prep and Los Padres League teams Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria in a proposed 10-team league. If 12 teams join, it would be Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Righetti, Atascadero, St. Joseph and Pioneer Valley in the upper division and Templeton, SLO, Mission Prep, Santa Maria, Nipomo and Morro Bay in the lower division, according to the proposal.

Non-football leagues are divided in a similar way, with the most competitive schools placed in the upper half of the league and struggling schools in a lower half.

As of now, only eight schools have signed on. According to a source, drafting the league proposal was intended to help schools such as Templeton, Atascadero, Nipomo and Morro Bay High — schools that haven’t decided to move — make the final call on whether to join the eight teams in the Central Section or stay in the Southern Section.

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