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CIF Southern Section responds to Mater Dei lawsuit

November 23, 2010 | 11:42 am

The CIF Southern Section is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and Santa Ana Mater Dei. A judge will hold a hearing in Orange County Superior Court on Dec. 20.

On Tuesday, the Southern Section issued a statement on the suit:

"Mater Dei’s original complaint charged CIF-SS with violation of a 'breach of contract' due to alleged unfair treatment and bias in making student eligibility findings. The timing of the Mater Dei lawsuit is particularly dubious because it was filed Sept. 29 while the section was still in the process of reviewing eligibility issues related to a student-athlete at the school.

"Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, Mater Dei had never sought to avail itself of the internal section and state complaint procedures open to all member schools. In fact, Mater Dei had failed to raise any concerns or pursue appeals from any appropriate entity, including the CIF-SS Commissioner of Athletics, CIF-SS Executive Committee and CIF State Executive Director. Given this, the lawsuit was abrupt and surprising.

"The section’s ultimate determination concerning the Mater Dei student athlete in question was favorable to that school. The student was deemed eligible to play in his sport of choice _ an outcome that directly contradicts allegations still being made against the section. Given the timing and filing of the litigation, it is not unreasonable for a person to infer that the purpose of filing this suit is an attempt to threaten the section or otherwise unduly influence its decisions.

"It is unfortunate when unnecessary legal actions strain already limited public and private resources. We look forward to presenting our case for dismissal to a judge. Until then, it would be inappropriate to offer any additional comment about this case or to speculate about the motivation behind Mater Dei’s desire to persist with this lawsuit."

-- Eric Sondheimer