NORWALK — A coach's incorrect interpretation of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section bylaws on the eligibility of a transfer student has cost the Leffingwell Christian High School boys basketball team the top Small Schools Division ranking and apparently a chance at a playoff berth.
Officials at the private school have been notified by the Southern Section that all games played prior to Feb. 1 have been forfeited. The Lions were in the midst of the school's best season with a 13-4 overall mark. Leffingwell was 8-0 in Academy League play.
At issue are 17 games in which junior starter Rodney Harriel played. A forward, Harriel transferred from Gahr High School this fall, apparently after he moved in with his father. Harriel's parents are divorced, according to school officials, and the father does not live within Gahr's attendance boundaries. Leffingwell officials felt Harriel was eligible to play immediately, since he had moved out of Gahr's jurisdiction to his father's home, which they said is in or near Paramount.
However, the Southern Section ruled that the son had already established a residence (his mother's home) while attending Gahr and that he should not be allowed to play this year at Leffingwell because his residence for athletic eligibility remained the same. "Eligibility for an athlete is established with the first residence (in a season), in this case, his mother," said Southern Section Administrator Dean Crowley. "Our rules on that are quite clear."