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Monday, Dec 10 2012 10:51 PM

Assemblyman Salas seeks answers after Wasco playoff snub

BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

The outcry from Wasco High School about its football team's CIF snub has reached Sacramento, where state assemblyman Rudy Salas is joining the fray.

Last week, the CIF's selection committee left Wasco (13-0) out of the Division III Southern California regional bowl game in favor of two-loss Monrovia and one-loss San Diego-Madison.

Madison beat Monrovia 21-17 on Saturday night to advance to the D-III state bowl game against Northern Cal champion Kentfield-Marin Catholic this Saturday in Carson, but Salas isn't done talking about Wasco's exclusion.

"The recent decision by the (CIF) committee to deny the Wasco Tigers, and our community, the opportunity to continue their outstanding season in the regional bowl game leaves many people wondering if the selection process is fair for all schools," said Salas (D-Bakersfield) in a press release that accompanied his open letter to Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod.

In the letter, Salas asks for clarification on the selection process and on specific cases involving Wasco, Central Section teams and rural areas.

"We try to teach our children that if you work hard and do the right thing, then everything will work out," Salas said in the release. "What the (CIF) has done by selecting teams with lesser records to play in the regional bowl games goes against that.

"At a minimum, the CIF selection committee owes the students, their families and our community an open explanation of how such decisions are made."

As a section commissioner, Wigod had just one of 10 votes on the CIF selection committee; the state CIF office in Sacramento said it would handle a response.

"The CIF State office is reaching out (Monday) to schedule a face-to-face meeting (with) Assemblyman Salas so that we can explain the selection process and the criteria, which is published on our website," CIF spokeswoman Rebecca Brutlag said in an email.

The website includes a link to the CIF regional bowl handbook, which includes the following information:

* Section commissioners met on Dec. 2 to determine pairings for the regional games.

* Only section champions are eligible. Wasco, Monrovia and Madison all met this requirement.

* Selection guidelines are listed as follows: Won-loss record, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, common opponents, "suitability to represent the State in a Bowl Championship with regards to Pursuing Victory with Honor and acceptable standards of sportsmanship."

The day the Monrovia-Madison pairing was announced, event director Ken Gunn said discussion of the D-III game involved Wasco's undefeated record against a weak schedule, relative to that of Monrovia and Madison. The CIF doesn't release commissioners' individual votes, so Gunn said it was impossible to know what was the determining factor in Wasco's exclusion.

Either way, the fight isn't over yet, thanks to Salas, and that pleases Wasco athletic director Raul Rangel -- who said he has been in contact with Salas' office.

"I think it's fantastic," Rangel said. "We absolutely need it. Whatever group that goes behind closed doors and makes these decisions, they don't have to answer to anybody. I haven't gotten involved in the past because it hasn't been my business, but this year it's hit home. What they did to us was a total injustice, and they need to be put in line."

When told the CIF announced it would schedule a face-to-face meeting with Salas, Rangel said he would ask Salas office to be invited.

"We want to be in this meeting," he said. "I want them to look me in the eye and tell me they didn't screw me and my school."

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