Despite passing nearly every proposal it was presented Thursday, the Southern Section Council voted down a heavily debated item that could have given its coaches more freedom to work with players in the off-season.
The Southern is the only one of California's 10 sections that prohibits its coaches from having contact with athletes outside their season of sport.
Although the section doesn't have jurisdiction over its coaches in the summer, it limits contact during the school year. For example, a boys' basketball coach cannot instruct any of his players during a spring league or tournament.
The rule has presented hardships in many school districts that have a limited number of qualified coaches, particularly in minor sports. Many of an area's experienced coaches choose to work at the club level.
Opponents of the proposal said allowing coaches more contact with athletes will promote specialization and discourage multi-sport participation.
"Specialization is already happening, and if kids are going to play a sport all year, we'd rather have them with their high school coaches," said Dean Crowley, Southern Section commissioner. "The club coaches can sometimes be a bad influence, and they often encourage transferring."
Rich Corso, the water polo coach at Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood, said the rule should be dropped because it's difficult to enforce.
"Coaches who want to have contact with their kids will find a way," Corso said.
In other items, the council continued to pass bylaws that crack down on poor sportsmanship. Athletes and coaches who are ejected from a contest by an official three or more times in a season must sit out the remainder of the season.