NEWHALL — By a vote of 23-5, Crescenta Valley High’s bid to leave the Pacific League and join the Rio Hondo League was denied at Friday morning’s CIF Southern Section Foothill Releaguing Chair Committee meeting at Hart High.
On a day in which four separate proposals affecting the Pacific League were considered and a few more including the Rio Hondo League were voted upon, weeks of speculation gave way to the status quo as none of the 14 schools that comprise either league were directly impacted.
Crescenta Valley will more than likely remain in the Pacific League along with Arcadia, Burbank, Burroughs, Glendale, Hoover, Muir and Pasadena, while the Rio Hondo League will continue to include Blair, La Cañada, Monrovia, San Marino, South Pasadena and Temple City.
Yet, despite all the activity, there wasn’t as much surprise as may have been speculated.
“We’ve been in discussion with [the Pacific League] and the Rio Hondo League,” Crescenta Valley athletic director Dave Mendoza said. “So, the results of today we knew forthcoming.”
At the heart of the flux was Crescenta Valley, which on March 15 drafted a proposal to the Foothill Releaguing committee asking to be switched from the Pacific League to the Rio Hondo League for several reasons, highlighted by competitive equity, enrollment and geography.
While Crescenta Valley had only met with resistance to joining the Rio Hondo League from San Marino, meeting curator Collyn Nielsen, principal of Hart High, announced prior to discussion a league about face as the Rio Hondo League withdrew its endorsement for the addition of Crescenta Valley.
Even so, Crescenta Valley Principal Michele Doll, who wrote the March 15 proposal, and Mendoza, still presented a case to the crowd of administrators, coaches and athletic directors present from 35 of the 60 schools from within the Foothill area, which was just above the 32 needed for quorum.
Mendoza argued the Rio Hondo League was much more well-rounded for Crescenta Valley in terms of overall sports and including junior varsity and freshman programs than was the Pacific League. Mendoza also noted that while Rio Hondo League schools “have predominantly less students,” an anticipated decline in enrollment in the upcoming years would bring the La Crescenta-based campus more in line with the other six schools.
Doll added that the student-body count from the 2012-13 year of 2,661 will dip to 2,647 the following year with a drop of another 153 students expected the year after.
Those figures were immediately disputed by San Marino Principal Keith Derrick.
“The last eight or so years, the [Crescenta Valley] enrollment has averaged 2,900 students,” Derrick retorted. “It hasn’t gone above [3,000], hasn’t gone below 2,900. For San Marino High, we have 1,100 students; next year it will 1,050 or 1,000. With CV coming into the league, their incoming freshman class is in the 700s. That’s almost another high school.”
In response, Doll reminded Derrick that numbers didn’t matter when it came to the football field as Mid-Valley Division (Division 11) San Marino defeated Southeast Division (Division VII) Crescenta Valley, 27-7, in nonleague play last season.
Crescenta Valley’s possible defection also brought Arcadia and Hoover into play, as Arcadia athletic director Ryan Press noted that his school was hoping to avoid change.
“Our position at Arcadia High School as it has always been, is that we’d love to maintain the status quo with the Pacific League,” Press said. “We have a great thing going. Specifically with Crescenta Valley leaving, that would hurt us tremendously.”
Arcadia argued that a seven-team Pacific League would be harmful, especially in football as the Apaches would have to scramble to find a Week 10 nonleague opponent during an almost exclusive league season.
Arcadia and Hoover had also written proposals to join the Rio Hondo League had Crescenta Valley’s plan gone through. As soon as Crescenta Valley’s measure was defeated, both Press and Hoover assistant principal Mark Rubio withdrew their respective school’s bids to leave the Pacific League in favor of the Rio Hondo League.
“My gut was telling me that what played out was going to play out,” Rubio said. “We had our proposal in just in case there were other proposals that we weren’t aware of or things went sideways. We’ve been on the fence for a while as to whether moving to the Rio Hondo made sense or not and we wanted to keep that option open.
“But with the convoluted nature of the possible changes and moving away from Glendale High and the rivalry with them, we thought at this time it was best to pull the proposal and let the status quo stay.”
Like Crescenta Valley, Marshall Fundamental was also denied in its attempt to join the Rio Hondo League.
Yet, unlike Crescenta Valley, the Pacific League had no welcome mat for the Eagles as not one single person voted for Marshall to join the league.
“I don’t think anyone wanted that,”“ Burroughs girls athletic director Jose Valle said. “Their principal was throwing out all sort of suggestions, but I think in his heart he knew the Pacific League wasn’t the right fit.”
However, in a contentious 23-13 vote, Marshall was selected to join the Mission Valley League over the Rio Hondo League.
Marshall currently competes in both the Alpha and Delphic Leagues, whose other members are private schools.