Tuesday, September 27 , 2016, 8:39 pm | Fair 72º

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Undefeated Bishop Diego High Hit with CIF Sanctions Ahead of Football Playoffs

Bishop Garcia Diego High School won’t be hosting any football playoff games this year, since the CIF imposed sanctions on the school last Friday for violating its rules of “undue influence.”

Sanctions were announced by the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section’s commissioner of athletics, Rob Wigod, after the results of an investigation that began Oct. 1.

CIF looked into allegations of undue influence after a flier circulated that invited local eighth-graders to come to the Bishop Diego campus for Spirit Day activities and the Homecoming football game.

“I want to reiterate that this invitation was for an admissions event that in no way targeted student athletes,” Head of School Paul Harrington said Sunday in a letter sent to parents, alumni and supporters.

The Cardinals’ 10-0 record and 2012 Tri-Valley League title was earned by hard work, he said, and urged people to travel and support the team whenever they could.

“I disagree with the manner in which this accusation was presented, handled and sanctioned, and I share your disappointment that they will not have the benefit of playing in front of a home crowd during their CIF campaign.”

It’s the school’s first undefeated regular season in history, according to Presidio Sports.

This sanction is typical for this type of violation, according to Thom Simmons, director of communications for CIF Southern Section. It will last only for this year’s postseason.

“This sanction does not keep the athletes — who violated no bylaws — from being able to participate in postseason competition while still punishing the school for those bylaw infractions,” he said in an email.

The CIF is an office of 16 people serving 579 schools, so it depends on schools reporting violations by other schools as well as themselves, he noted. In this case, that’s what happened. The office was given evidence that a rule was violated, and Bishop Diego was asked to look into it.

“They did so, and their response confirmed a violation had occurred,” Simmons said. “At that point, a penalty was applied.”

Harrington said the fliers in question were meant to generate interest for general enrollment purposes, and the day’s activities had no presentations about or mentioning ofthe school’s athletics program.

CIF learned that the flier, which was featured in local advertisements, was shown to a Santa Barbara Youth Football League team by a team mom/assistant. Though the woman had no affiliation with the high school, CIF thought a line was crossed, Harrington said.

No misconduct was found by coaches or staff at Bishop Diego, who are taught the CIF dos and don’ts for these rules.

“I stand behind our coaching staff and can assure you that we, as a Catholic school rooted in sound ethics and moral values, always play by the rules,” Harrington said.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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