Could the California Interscholastic Federation’s Central Coast Section be in trouble with the IRS?

CIF’s Central Coast Section may enjoy sitting in the “gray area” legally on  many issues , but  CCS does not get to set, police and enforce the rules  related to their tax status and financial management.

CCS Watchdog has received information that enough may be amiss in the management and structure of CCS that the Section’s tax status could be in jeopardy; or at least  in serious trouble with Uncle Sam. Individuals who have served on the Board of Mangers or various committees have admitted to having little time, knowledge  or ability to properly address  issues related to CCS finances.  There is also a false assumption that Directors and Officers have no personal or legal exposure by serving various volunteer positions within CCS. That simply is not true.

Directors and Officers insurance does not protect individuals if they are negligent or wrongful and  individuals serving  CCS have a fiduciary obligation to the organization.  Simply approving or accepting information offered by CCS staff may not be adequate to fulfill that obligation.   If not done properly, CCS does have exposure not only related to tax status but also for additional financial risks.

CCS Watchdog has obtained enough information to indicate the “appearance” of the CCS structure and management is not as is legally required and significant issues would emerge if an audit were to take place.

If CCS losses their tax status, what will that mean for athletes and schools who rely on corporate donations? If CCS has to pay huge legal and accounting bills , how will member schools absorb those costs and not compromise their athletic programs? Corporations will not donate if the tax exemption is in jeopardy. If CCS staff cannot handle the pressure and requirements of a simply CalPER audit, how will they handle an IRS audit and investigation? Our forensic accountants believe there is reason to worry.

Even if no mismanagement has occurred, it is up to the volunteers of each board to ensure that there is no appearance of mismanagement and that simply has not been done. From eligibility to expenditures in the CCS office, the “appearance” indicates there may be a problem.

We are drafting a letter to the Board of Managers and the Executive Committee and will present the  letter here on this site when it is complete.

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Finding the Right Lawyer to Fight CIF or a Section for Athletic Eligibility

We have received a high volume  of requests related to eligibility. Some  are fairly  clear cut, others have merit  and some are too hard for us to properly address. Therefore we are conducting a search of attorneys who have represented clients related  to athletic  eligibility cases. We will  conduct  a survey of area lawyers in the Central  Coast Section and try to help you sift through if one may be a better fit than another for your individual case. We also have access to investigators that may help as well. We will publish general results and questions that may be helpful, but will not promote or advertise for a specific law firm.

We can help you weigh the costs and be prepared for possible outcomes before you decide to hire an attorney. We are also collecting information that may help in filing future class action lawsuits, if such cases have merit.

Last year CIF spent over $1.1 million dollars on legal fees. They have it down and have their own general counsel. Solo cases are tougher without the background and information, hopefully,  we can help you better your chances and arm you with more information if CIF or a Section has been wrongful in their actions or determination  related to a student’s athletic eligibility. We also understand member schools have huge financial risks as well and our report will include attorneys who have been successful as  advocates for member schools as well.

We believe money for schools belongs in the classroom, not the court room and it is time to get CIF and Sections on that same page!

Would you hire an Attorney to fight for Athletic Eligibility?

Is CCS allowing Coaches to Use Social Media for Competitive Advantage?

Are coaches using social media to spy on other programs, intimidate athletes, recruit ,  gain competitive advantage or  provide false information to CCS ?

This issue has been raised in the review of eligibility Case #51 that was decided by Ms. Blaser in the Central Coast Section.  We have also found that CCS officials may have failed to act properly and fairly in their review of this case and that may have had  a significant impact on a CCS Championships. On behalf of those who are reluctant to come forward to bring attention to this matter for the greater good, we asked CCS to provide the grievance policy available to athletes and their families when a complaint  is related to CCS officials, member schools or coaches. 

CCS hired legal counsel to respond to our request and stated that they are not legally obligated to provide information to  CCS Watchdog as our group does not meet the legal definition of “member of the public” .  Will schools now have to pay for CCS lawyers to answer their questions?  What about morally? What about those public relations funds CCS spends each year? 

Evidence supports that this issue may be wide spread and indicative of improper conduct within CCS. It is a” greater good ” issue and individual athletes may have been denied eligibility to keep issues such as these from coming  forward. If coaches are using social media to recruit or give a team a competitive advantage, that is wrong. It is not transparent.  If athletes are being stalked by coaches who are using social media to intimidate an athlete  from another school or construct  an advantage , that is wrong. If CCS relies on , subjective  information that is improperly obtained or not objectively supported, that is wrong. 

CCS should have in their policies and procedures a “Chinese Wall” for  when conflicts of interest may be present. We have been asking CIF/CCS  to provide evidence that such consideration exists to confirm that procedures are in fact   “neutral” as they claim. CCS and CIF have not provided any evidence that support such policies or procedures exist. It is not available on any public information CCS or CIF have pointed to.   If a Section Commissioner has been allowed to determine eligibility and sanctions  for schools where she has personal interests or relationships and it is found she did not act in a similar fashion where she does not have these relationships, it not only may be wrong, it may be criminal.  Are CCS legal fees being used to allow improper conduct? 

As always we invite CIF and CCS to point to formal and informal documents that demonstrate the all CCS stakeholders truly have access to a fair and “neutral” process as CIF states to our California State Legislators.  We also invite Ms. Blaser to comment, clarify or provide any information to clarify any issues raised in this forum.  All information provided by Ms. Blaser will be published , unaltered , on this site.  We  will continue to investigate for the greater good of CCS athletes, member schools, families and communities in California’s Central Coast Section.  Please bring your personal eligibility questions to us at:  CCSwatchdog@gmail.com

Is there bias in CCS eligibility decisions?

Athletic Eligibility is a hot topic and very personal to many families within the Central Coast Section. We get a wide range of comments, some parents fight passionately for their kids, but ultimately come to realizethat the rules do apply and they may not have eligibility options as they had hoped.

But some communications we have had with families of current and former athletes related to eligibility are more disturbing. First, we remain troubled over one person managing all schools and athletes with supreme power for 22 years. Privately many people will say the Machiavellian culture is not in the best interest of any school or athlete in the Section.  Second, consider that CCS management is charged with representing all public and private schools and all athletes in the Central Coast Section. Then consider the percentage of private schools verses public schools within the Section. The current Section Commissioner is very public about her religious affiliations and chose to send her own child to a private school. That has raised some questions we continue to investigate:

1.  Did the commissioner’s child get referees that may have made favorable calls to benefit the child’s team at the expense of  other athletes?

2. Who oversaw that appeals of competing schools and athletes were fair and neutral and that no bias was present when allowing eligibility for an athlete that may play with or against the Commissioner’s own child?

3. Doesn’t the Commissioner appoint or select most of the staff that would be involved in that decision? Do those people have  affiliations to private schools as well? Are public school athletes at a disadvantage in this Section?

4.  Did the Commissioner use her position either directly or indirectly to improve her own child’s visibility and chances of earning an opportunity to attend college while other athletes were denied those opportunities through eligibility decisions or  even in favoritism given during competitions in the Section? Would that be considered misappropriation?

5.  Who employs and pays for the referees in the Section? Who has the ultimate authority for that employment?

We have asked CIF to disclose policy and procedures for filing a complaint against a Section Commissioner or CCS staff member, no disclosure or procedure has been offered.  It appears a complaint must be  filed directly with CCS  and then evaluated and decided by CCS, thereby not genuinely  offering a “neutral” process that CIF and CCS claim to have.

We are also calling on the Board of Managers and the Executive Committee to investigate these issues further as is their  obligation and fiduciary responsibility to all member schools and athletes in the Central Coast Section.

Take our Weekly CCS Finance Poll

How Much CCS Money Actually Goes to Athletes?

Each year CCS representatives are elected, nominated and appointed to various committees within California’s Central Coast Section to manage the Section in the best interest of all member schools and athletes in both public
and private schools from San Francisco to King City. While most believe that CCS functions to establish rules and regulations for member schools, host championship events for athletes and ensure the integrity of all participants; few every question the management of CCS itself.

The CCS tax records note that for the tax year from 2010 to 2011 CCS collected over $84,000 from member schools in administrative fees and over $246,960 from  schools as obligated by CCS membership.  In addition, CCS
events raised $476,008 and sponsors gave $42,379 for what they believed would benefit high school athletics, but how was this money actually used?

In 2010-2011 tax records for CCS show the following:

  1. The CCS Commissioner and CCS staff members collected over $645,000 in salary, payroll taxes and retirement alone. Most  staff are part time or administrative positions, indicating the majority of the compensation went to the CCS Commissioner who has been in the position for over 22 years, the longest in CCS history.
  2. While rents across San Jose have dropped significantly in recent years, CCS has continued to incur rent increases and paid over $78,000 in 2010-11 to rent office space for the “small ” CCS staff.
  3. The CCS commissioner and staff also enjoyed benefits and additional perks including $18,000 in car allowance, $109,369 in computer equipment and $15,737 in communication equipment.
  4. Legal and accounting fees increased over 128% at the same time an independent CalPERs audit indicated that CCS had improperly paid retired employees additional consulting income , submitted late payroll 17
    times from 2007 to 2009, inaccurately reported unused sick leave, failed to properly enroll employees and dependents  in health benefits and did not accurately report their payroll to CalPERS.

Ms. Blaser’s response to the audit was “ we are a small office and do not have the resources for full or even part time HR person . As a result it is nearly impossible for us to be aware of all regulations and changes.”

Ironically, that is exactly what Ms. Blaser expects of CCS member schools and athletes. Each year schools struggle  to pay the administrative and membership fees necessary to continue to offer high school athletic programs.  In addition,  schools struggle with turnover and staffing  issues which Ms. Blaser has failed to properly address or acknowledge . Increased administrative costs and burdens as well as financial costs have increased significantly, yet CCS has done little to reduce their internal costs or expenses.  CCS Watchdog members do not believe this is financially sustainable and could  threaten athletic  programs for all schools and athletes in the Central Coast Section.

We think that spending over $645,000 for compensation of a select few and only $6, 895 for awards and $2,000 for student scholarships is wrong!

We call on this year’s Board of Managers and Executive Committee Members to do their fiduciary responsibility for all member schools and athletes. We call on them to not simply reinstate Ms. Blaser and allow her to act as
Commissioner and Treasurer. We call on them to insist CCS reduce legal,  accounting and other fees as well as reduce overall office expenses and salaries by at least 15% in this tax year. We also call on them to consider if
22 years for one individual to dominate the culture and finances  of the CCS office may be too long.  We call on them to do the right thing!