California high school soccer refs boycott for higher pay

November 15, 2023 / Athletic Administration
For months, high school officials in Southern California have been threatening to boycott their assignments if they did not get a fee increase from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section.

On November 13, the officials started their boycott which has created a scheduling nightmare for area athletic administrations.

boycottA recent story from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune detailed the referee strike and how it’s affecting California schools.

Below is an excerpt from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Not all of the referee associations in Southern California plan to boycott. Orange County officials are not expected to participate, but referees in the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena, and as far east as the 15 freeway said they would refuse assignments.

It is believed that seven of the nine high school referee associations that serve the Southern Section said they would boycott assignments.

Baldwin Park’s girls’ team opened the season against Azusa on Monday. Baldwin Park athletic director Carlos Aparacio said the school was one of the fortunate ones.

“For us, our coaches have access to referees through associations they deal with,” Aparacio said. “We’re lucky, because I know a lot of ADs are scrambling to find replacements. It’s not fun, I’m sure.”

Many schools are contacting their local AYSO chapters looking for replacement referees in addition to coaches and people on campus who might be qualified.

The current CIF-SS fee structure pays a two-man referee crew $75 each for a varsity soccer game, and pays a little bit less than that for junior varsity games. That fee is based on an hourly estimated time that soccer officials are at games, from the time they arrive until they leave.

The CIF-SS says that rate was agreed upon by the referees through the 2023-25 fee cycle and can’t be changed because of the section’s bylaws.

CIF-SS commissioner Mike West sent a memo to athletic directors in August explaining that, “By CIF Southern Section bylaws, the section office is not able to evaluate and adjust individual sports fees outside the established timelines. Additionally, member schools are also not allowed to deviate from established officials’ fee structure clearly outlined in the Blue Book.”

CIF-SS assistant commissioner Thom Simmons said the officials are asking for something that can’t be done by the CIF-SS.

“We couldn’t change the rate if we wanted too,” Simmons said. “There is a process you have to go through. We understand and appreciate what high school soccer officials do, but this isn’t a decision that we can just make. It’s not that simple.”

In the memo to athletic directors, West outlined what schools should do if high school officials boycotted:

— Assistant coaches can officiate or a coach from each team can officiate if both teams agree, and that result will count.

— Schools can also contact qualified individuals outside of the area who are willing to work.

— Contact local universities or the Southern California Intermural Officials Association.

— Re-schedule the contest.

To read the full story from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, click here.