Rob Wigod tried hard to provide leadership, which is what he did on May 21 down in Los Alamitos.
Wigod is the CIF-Southern Section commissioner, which means he answers to a lot of high school principals and school district superintendents and school boards.
On that date, what else was he supposed to say when he held court with media people looking for answers?
Folks in San Bernardino, Highland and Redlands are just as curious as to the nature of his remarks as, say, those in Laguna Niguel, Claremont and Camarillo.
“Once we have enough schools reopen,” Wigod noted, “and their athletic programs are back on campus, we can establish a calendar for CIF Southern Section regular season and championship competition.”
That original calendar, he said, is “still in place … but we have been working on several possible scenarios when we would have to move that calendar back for Fall Sports to start later.”
San Bernardino has a half dozen public high schools ⎯ Arroyo Valley, Cajon, Indian Springs, Pacific, San Bernardino and San Gorgonio ⎯ that are all in different leagues and various situations.
All six campuses face the same decision-making force from local school officials.
Wigod is only as good as those decision-makers from each school district are in determining how to face the immediate future. There are 563 member schools in the vast CIF Southern Section.
Area school districts ⎯ San Bernardino, Colton, Fontana, Rialto, Redlands, Yucaipa and Riverside, among the local footprint ⎯ can be as vastly different in their approach as Los Angeles can be from Orange County communities.
Superintendents are awaiting word from Wigod.
Principals are awaiting word from their superintendents so they can circulate it to their football and cross-country coaches, plus those coaching volleyball and aquatics, tennis and golfers.
Nothing has been determined yet.
Anyone in the media that bothers to speculate ⎯ and allows others to speculate ⎯ is misleading their readers. Period.
One thing is for certain. Each superintendent makes the call for their own district. Wigod made no secret of that during his May 21 conference.
All decisions to reopen, he said, “will be made entirely by each local superintendent, school board from a public school district or each private school.”
Aquinas fits into the private school sector.
Said Wigod: “I’m sure they will follow the recommendations of state and local health authorities in arriving at the decisions that are in the best interests of their students and school communities.”
Wigod is the ninth commissioner since the CIF Southern Section was formed in 1913 when Seth Van Patten governed through 1951.
William Russell, Ken Fagans, Thomas Byrnes, Ray Plutko, Stan Thomas, Dean Crowley and Jim Staunton preceded Wigod to the chair.
As for Wigod’s May 21 conference, perhaps the most interesting comments that came out during the meeting:
“The CIF Southern Section cannot open schools and reinstate athletic programs.”
“All options for Fall, Winter and Spring sports are being considered and are on the table.”
“We continue to stay current on this ever-changing situation and do everything we can to assist our member schools in restoring education-based athletics programs when the time is right.”
In other words, he’s waiting for official guidance to trickle down from as high as Gov. Newsom’s office ⎯ and maybe higher.
Wigod has a legislative body surrounding him, likely offering him guidance on where each of his school districts in the nearly 600 schools in the Section sit in the coronavirus emergency.
For instance, Cajon High School athletic director Rich Imbriani ⎯ a longtime participant in athletic leadership ⎯ is the 2020-21 boys athletic director representative. He’s part of the CIF Southern Section Executive Committee.
Boyd Lium, the athletic director at Citrus Valley, is Citrus Belt League coordinator and compliance officer.
Teenya Bishop, principal at Cajon, CBL president.
Chris Barrows, principal at Aquinas, is the Ambassador League compliance officer. He shares duties with a handful of other league officers from around the area.
All of those school officials have as much influence into Wigod’s decisions as anyone else throughout the vast Southern Section.
The Fall Sports calendar, says Wigod, might have to start later than normal.
“That is going to be our organization’s biggest challenge,” he said, “in a section as large as ours with 563 member schools.”