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Four schools win arbitration cases to stay in current CIF sports areas

Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy's fought move by Southern Section to parochial area. Now comes scramble to quickly create new leagues.

March 07, 2014|Eric Sondheimer
  • Quarterback Brandon Dawkins and Oaks Christian defeated Westlake, 39-36, last season to win the Marmonte League football title. It appears the Lions will return to the Ventura County-based league instead of joining one based in the San Fernando Valley.
Quarterback Brandon Dawkins and Oaks Christian defeated Westlake, 39-36,… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

Ventura St. Bonaventure, Westlake Village Oaks Christian, La Verne Damien and Glendora St. Lucy's have won their arbitration cases against the CIF Southern Section and will remain in their current sports areas for the upcoming re-leaguing cycle from 2014-18, according to the decision announced Friday by a retired judge.

It will force the schools in the Northern Area, Mt. SAC and parochial areas to meet again and restart their re-leaguing process. Those areas already had created new leagues without the four schools.

Asked for reaction about all four schools winning their cases, St. Bonaventure Principal Marc Groff said, "I don't think any of us did" see this coming.

"I'm absolutely thankful we'll be going back up here. It's where we belong," Groff said.

Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure would have been joining football leagues based mostly in the San Fernando Valley and were expected to be in the Pac-5 Division. They competed last season in the Marmonte League, which was also in the Pac-5.

The arbitration sweep brings to a close months of legal maneuvering among the Southern Section and the schools. The Southern Section had decided to move the schools to the parochial area, putting them with other private schools. The schools filed federal lawsuits seeking to prevent the moves.

The parties agreed to binding arbitration. The hearing was held this week.

Now comes the scramble to create new leagues under an expedited schedule. It usually takes months to put together leagues. The parties agreed to a 50-day schedule, Groff said.

"All the schedules are out the door," Moorpark Athletic Director Rob Dearborn said. "I think a lot of people are going to be unhappy."

The Catholic Athletic Assn. already has scheduled a meeting for March 27 to put together new leagues that won't include St. Bonaventure, Oaks Christian or Damien.

One probable outcome is that Crespi and Notre Dame would return to the same league. They had scheduled a non-league game this fall in football because they were scheduled to be in different leagues.

But there's going to be a big debate over what to do with West Hills Chaminade and Gardena Serra in football. Both were scheduled to change football leagues and probably will play in the Pac-5 Division this fall.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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