Ocean View High School's effort to regain its eligibility for the CIF Southern Section 5-A division boys' basketball playoffs was kept on hold Thursday in Orange County Superior Court.
Commissioner Jane D. Myers denied a request filed by John Saginaw, Ocean View Coach Jim Harris' attorney, for a temporary stay of the penalty levied against the Seahawk program.
A hearing has been set for Feb. 10 in Orange County Superior Court to hear Harris' appeal. Saginaw is trying to get the team reinstated before the playoff pairings are announced Feb. 16.
The Southern Section Executive Council put Ocean View on probation for a year and ruled the team ineligible for this season's playoffs after the council found that Harris had used "undue influence" in retaining two transfer players, Desi Hazely and Ricky Butler.
Myers said she felt it inappropriate to overturn the actions of the CIF after hastily reviewing the lengthy writ filed by Saginaw.
"There is a concern among the young men that not participating in the playoffs is unfair. This is a matter that should be decided in a hearing," she said.
Saginaw argued that Harris' intent was "not to retain two basketball players in his home, but to provide the boys a better life and education." Saginaw called the section's undue influence rule "vague and certain" and said it was "broadly interpreted by the CIF."
Attorney Andrew Patterson, representing the Southern Section, said that the action taken by the section was in accordance with the section's bylaws and was neither unfair or abusive.
The section's action came after a three-month investigation by the Huntington Beach Union High School District found Harris guilty of using "undue influence" to retain Hazely and Butler, who had transferred from Lynwood to Ocean View.
The players had been under the care of guardian Laurant Brown, but when Brown subsequently moved to La Crescenta, the boys moved into Harris' home in El Toro. They remained at Ocean View under a waiver from the Saddleback Unified School District.
Harris was later fired by Ocean View Principal John Myers after the district's investigation, but Myers reinstated Harris after the coach admitted he had used undue influence to keep the boys at Ocean View. The district forced the Seahawks to forfeit 24 victories and their 5-A runner-up trophy.