By Julian Prime & Andrew Shults
For the first time in over a decade, the South Pasadena Varsity football team earned themselves a CIF berth following a 21-3 road victory over the La Cañada Spartans on Wednesday, November 7. The win sent the Tigers to a 7-3 record, clinching third place in the Rio Hondo standings as well as a playoff spot. The jubilant team leaped with joy as the clock hit zero. The visiting stands joined the victorious Tigers in an emotional alma mater, which transitioned into cheers and chants. The team had made it.
At least, this seemed like the case. After celebrating during the bus ride home, the players were called into a meeting with Principal Ms Janet Anderson and Athletic Director Mr. Greg Luna. They regretfully informed the boys that their efforts had been for nothing, as the team was disqualified from playoffs for breaking CIF Southern Section rules.
The rule the team had allegedly broken was Number 512 in the CIF SS rulebook, prohibiting teams from photographing or recording another team’s practices without their consent. Reports on Twitter and through word of mouth spread of the violation, but there was no official announcement until Anderson told the players.
That night, Anderson released a public statement summarizing the events in her own words. She kept the cause of the disqualification vague, citing it as “a violation of CIF regulations.” She also noted in an exclusive interview with Tiger Newspaper that South Pasadena’s head coach was not present at the game due to the investigation, and despite several details in question, an infraction still occurred.
The most notable piece of information Anderson revealed that night was that administration knew of the incident the day before but decided not to reveal it to the players until after the game, sending both players and supporters into an uproar.
After the initial dust settled, official word came out that the six Rio Hondo league principals decided the two teams would play the game anyway, with South Pasadena handing over the game to La Canada if they won. Even though they were not able to secure a spot into the playoffs, South Pasadena still had the opportunity to submit an at-large bid in hopes of making it into the postseason but decided not to pursue this option.
Players also began reporting that no other coaches knew of the alleged taping of the Spartans’ practices, and the tape was never shown to them or the players. None of this, however, has been confirmed officially.