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Santa Ana Mater Dei High sues Southern Section

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has filed a civil suit alleging that the Southern Section has been unfair and inconsistent in applying rules relating to the eligibility of student-athletes.

October 04, 2010|By Eric Sondheimer

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, acting on behalf of Santa Ana Mater Dei High, has filed a civil suit in Santa Ana Superior Court alleging that the CIF Southern Section has "applied rules relating to the eligibility of student-athletes at Mater Dei unfairly and inconsistently," according to diocese spokesman Ryan Lilyengren.

The suit, filed Sept. 29, states that the Southern Section "has consistently, intentionally and systematically engaged in arbitrary and discriminatory actions against Mater Dei by issuing and enforcing unsupported and erroneous findings and rulings relating to eligibility of student athletes at Mater Dei."

This school year, the Southern Section declared ineligible a top water polo player who transferred to Mater Dei from Newport Harbor, and also a linebacker who transferred from a school in Connecticut. The linebacker, Todd Hunt, has an appeal hearing with the Southern Section scheduled for Tuesday.

Attorneys representing Mater Dei and the diocese are seeking a court order that directs the Southern Section to abide by and enforce all provisions of its Blue Book while also seeking attorneys' fees and costs.

This is the second time this year that the diocese has filed suit against the Southern Section. During the summer, the diocese, representing another Catholic school, Santa Margarita, won a preliminary injunction barring the Southern Section from disclosing punishment imposed by Santa Margarita for rules violations.

Lilyengren said the cases are not related. The Southern Section declined to comment.

In a written statement, Lilyengren said, "Mater Dei has been a member of the CIF-SS for nearly 60 years and has complied fully with all obligations required of it as a member school. This legal action does not seek any award of monetary damages but a resolution that will bring an end to the unfair and unjust treatment of Mater Dei and its student-athletes."

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