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More controversy for the Marmonte League

Eric Sondheimer / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

October 06, 2008|Eric Sondheimer

Always count on the Ventura County-based Marmonte League to offer the best in off-the-field drama.

This was the league in 1994 that gained national attention for briefly banning post-game handshakes. This was the league in 2003 that went dysfunctional after quarterback Rudy Carpenter transferred to Westlake Village Westlake from rival Newbury Park.

And this is the league that's now engaged in another uproar over the presence of junior linebacker-running back Lucky Radley, who transferred from Encino Crespi to Woodland Hills Taft to Agoura this summer.

It turns out Radley and his mother signed a one-year lease agreement to move in with the family of an Agoura wide receiver. It's legal under Southern Section rules, and that has caused coaches to joke about asking their own players if they have any rooms to spare.

"It crossed my mind," Moorpark Coach Tim Lins said.

There's also a disagreement over why Radley withdrew from Crespi in January.

The City Section launched an investigation after Radley sought a hardship waiver in August to play for Taft when Crespi declined to let him return.

City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege wrote in a report, "It was stated by the principal at Crespi that the transfer was based on CIF bylaw 210 regarding disciplinary transfer, or more specifically that disciplinary action was in place at the time of the transfer."

That would make Radley ineligible for one year.

But Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said last week that Crespi officials insisted there was no pending disciplinary action against Radley, thus clearing him to play for Agoura.

Adding to the controversy is Radley telling the Ventura County Star that "my scholarship was pulled" from Crespi for failing to pass a summer school class. Of course, it's illegal for Crespi to offer athletic scholarships, and the school denies Radley was on scholarship but was receiving financial aid.

"Some people are up in arms," said Lins, who went through his own troubles last season when running back Darrell Scott left Moorpark for Ventura St. Bonaventure in his senior year. "It's not uncommon these days for student athletes moving from place to place to better their situation."

Radley started for Crespi's Pac-5 Division finalist team last season as a sophomore and has become an important two-way player for Agoura, rushing for 118 yards last week in a 23-22 victory over Westlake.

The question is whether transfer rules need to be strengthened. The Southern Section reported 240 sophomores switched schools last month under a new CIF rule that allows one free transfer at the start of a student's sophomore season, a 45% increase over last year.

And there were 1,016 transfers overall in the month of September alone.

This comes after the revelation last summer that three Villa Park boys' basketball players used an extended-stay hotel near the school to meet residency requirements.

In other words, people are trying to manipulate the system and look for loopholes around rules.

Give the Radleys credit. According to the Southern Section, they have done nothing wrong and have followed the rules. Others are not so certain, but this is just another example of how transfer issues continue to have a huge impact on high school sports, with no effective solution in sight.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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