In Oakland, new player eligibility rules and forfeited games

Staff Photojournalist
photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

Castlemont High has canceled its second football game on Friday because it lacks enough eligible players.

Skyline High, a school of nearly 2,000 students, forfeited its very first football game of the season — also, because it couldn’t field a team. At the time, its coach wrote a widely circulated letter to Superintendent Tony Smith saying the Oakland Athletic League’s new rules were keeping many of his otherwise-eligible players off the field.

The new rules, passed in the spring by high school principals who sit on the Oakland Athletic League policy committee, caused a big stir and plenty of confusion and alarm in the prep sports world. The policy originally stated that a student needed an overall 2.0 GPA, or C average, to be eligible (rather than a 2.0 in the previous marking period) as well as a certain number of credits. If not, the student would be sidelined for the entire school year.

So in the last few weeks, after plenty of, well, `input’ from coaches and others, the policy has softened. The GPA policy went back to the way it used to be (and the same as nearly every other league).

And perhaps more significantly, some players with poor academic records will have a second chance to participate on a team if they show they’re making up credits and raising their GPAs — if not for the fall season, possibly for a sport they play in the winter or spring.¬†The OAL policy committee on Wednesday¬†created an appeal process for players who are behind on credits or who received a GPA below a 2.0 in their last 6-week marking period.

What’s new this year, after all of the changes, has to do with making sure players aren’t falling behind on their course credits. The OAL is following a state law (and California Interscholastic Federation rules, pages 29-30) that requires leagues to monitor the credits accrued by student-athletes. To be eligible, according to the CIF, the student must be “maintaining minimum progress toward meeting the high school graduation requirements as prescribed by the governing board.”

Gil Lemmon, commissioner of the North Coast Section League, says its schools have similar credit requirements.

I visited the SPAAT program at McClymonds High earlier this month; despite its small size, Mack was able to weather the original changes and field a team for its first game. I found out that the high school’s student-athletes are required to participate in the after-school tutoring program, which also provides college counseling services.

Skyline also has tutoring available for its athletes, though — as of a week or so ago — the football program did not require its players to go. (Other sports teams at the school do have that requirement.)

What do you think about Oakland’s academic eligibility policy, and the way it’s shifted in the last six months? What do you think — or hope — it will mean for student-athletes who aren’t on track to graduate?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    LOL. So are you a Red Diaper Baby??

  • Seenitbefore

    When our kids can understand that football….and the opportunity to be financially successful….is not the ONLY thing that life is about… Then maybe there will be value in funding competitive sports programs at schools. But NEVER at the expense of education and learning how to be a contributing member in the progress of planet earth. This guy gets it: http://sports.yahoo.com/video/lamarr-woodley-hometown-hero-211408701.html

  • Ex oakland staff

    re: #52 Seenitbefore – I believed the way you did…until I got into education and found out that you need a lot of arrows in your quiver. Every kid is different and different things motivate different students. There is a reason football and other sports are universal in secondary education – they do an great job of keeping athletically inclined students engaged in school. Sports also help build a well functioning community on campus by providing fun community event that does not just involve the athletes, but cheer squads, dance teams, marching bands, and parent volunteers. Of course, there will always be problems with priorities and balance, which can get out of whack, but it would be counterproductive to use reparable defects as an excuse to completely throw out secondary athletic programs.

  • Nextset

    Southern Violence:


    I just came across an interesting article as part of research I’m doing related to a situation where black families at a birthday party for children got into a knock down fight/gun battle over something normal people can’t fathom (some kind of disrespect). No one was hit by the bullets, just the sheet rock. The penalty for all this (as charged in court) can be life in prison (effectively) without parole for a defendant who has no criminal history. It will be interesting to see how things resolve. Should there be a “southern” exception to the CA Penal Code? Those gun enhancements are really serious.

    The case could have easily involved Southern Whites but they are rather in short supply – I think they’ve relocated to Texas for jobs.

    One of the things OUSD teachers have with the benefits of diversity is a black student population that are products of the Black Migration from WWI through roughly 1970. I think the peak years were just after WWII. Although the students may have been born in CA – as was I – we still have behaviors handed down from our grandparents from the South. My late father took his late Dad’s handgun away from him at 80 because Granddad started answering the door with it (in Oakland) and was really short tempered. Grandad mellowed considerably in his old age, he was from TN.

    From the article: “In the South, the incidence of black-on-black violence outpaces not only the rest of America (eclipsing Northern inner-city and West Coast gang violence) but also the rest of the developed world.”

    The article tries to explain the roots of the behavior. I prefer David Chappelle’s explanations. It’s all about keeping it real.

    One more explanation of the need for corporal punishment in Black Schools. Or at a bare minimum fast, serious and severe discipline – more so than might be needed in schools without such students.

    The old school black teachers from the first half of the 20th Century were the way they were because they were a part of this southern history – or if not they better understood how to reach out and touch southern descended students.

    This isn’t strictly related to this thread on the footballers except – The white liberals who want to cram algebra and literature down their throats don’t understand them or their culture and believe they can order them around like slaves – dictating their education and possibly their occupations. Well it’s not going to happen. The footballers and their families will make their own decisions about what they want to do with their educations and careers.