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LBUSD Board Votes To End Moore League Transfer Rule

The Long Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education voted to abolish its one-year ineligibility rule for student-athletes transferring between Moore League schools at last week’s board meeting. The vote passed unanimously, 5-0, undoing the rule which had been on the books since March 17, 2015.

The rule has been widely decried by Moore League athletic directors and the local sports community, and there was no shortage of celebration after the board’s vote.

“Our athletic directors were disappointed when the board passed this rule (in 2015),” said Moore League secretary Lisa Ulmer. “Nobody was happy with it, it was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

The rule was put into place because of what the district felt were too many athletic transfers between schools. It was jokingly referred to for the last five years as the “Jason Brown Rule,” after the Cabrillo football coach who was known to openly recruit local players to the Jaguars program.

The rule did not have the intended effect. In the two years prior to its passage, there were 230 athletic transfers of LBUSD students; in the two years after it was passed, there were 297 transfers. The difference was that a higher percentage of the transfers were leaving the district, instead of moving from one LBUSD school to another.

Almost 10% of those athletes in the first two years transferred to St. Anthony, where athletic director Brian Walsh referred to the new rule as a “huge gift” to the Saints’ athletic program. From 1920 to 2015, St. Anthony won nine CIF Southern Section championships. In the three years after the Moore League transfer rule was passed, the Saints won five CIF-SS titles.

“There’s no way on the planet I would go for a transfer policy that’s tougher than what the CIF has,” said former LBUSD superintendent Carl Cohn when informed of the rule change in 2015.

The rule was passed 4-1 in 2015, with Boardmember Megan Kerr the lone dissenting vote. She said she was happy to see the rule go down last week.

“One of the things I said at the meeting in 2015 was that I worry it’s an overreaction and a really drastic fix that would have a negative impact on kids for what essentially at the time was some adult bad behavior,” said Kerr. “I worried that there were a lot of kids who’d be swept up in it, and it played out that way.”

Stories of those effects abound, but one representative example is Denaylan Fuimaono. He had a different head football coach his freshman, sophomore, and junior years at Cabrillo and wanted to transfer for his senior season.

“I got tired of showing the new coach where his office was,” he said at the time. Fuimaono wanted to stay within the Moore League, but was told he wouldn’t be able to. Instead, he transferred to Carson where he was recruited by San Diego State, where he signed a scholarship. He said it was hurtful to him to have to leave his hometown to play football in a stable program.

Several parents of incoming freshman football players in 2016 and 2017 whose children were denied entrance to Poly or Wison said they were told to enroll their kids at Cabrillo or Jordan, keep them out of varsity football for their freshman year to retain eligibility, then transfer to Poly or Wilson after that. One of those parents was Brent Jones, the father of Poly All-American Jack Jones, whose younger son Brent Jr. was told to go to Cabrillo then transfer to Poly.

“Now why in the hell would I do that?” said Brent Sr. at the time. “I don’t think the LBUSD understands that no other school district on earth would ask a parent to do that.”

Ulmer said she’d heard nothing but positive feedback from coaches and athletic directors about the Board’s decision to abolish the rule.

“Some of our schools got creamed, they really got hurt,” said Ulmer. “Families were opting to send their kids to private schools.”

“I’m glad it’s finally being abolished,” said Kerr.

CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod took a different line, saying he admired the district’s efforts in 2015.

“They’re having some struggles because of it, but they felt like they had a problem and they tried to enact a rule to do something about it,” he said.

LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser said the reason for abolishing the rule this year was that CIF-SS transfer policies have gotten stricter, eliminating what the district felt was a need for the more restrictive policy.

“The policy did exactly what it was meant to do,” he said. 

Boardmember Jon Meyer, an advocate for the rule in 2015 who voted to abolish it last week, said he felt the change in the district’s high school office was the reason he was confident removing the rule.

“This relies on the integrity of (LBUSD High School Superintendent) Jay Camerino, who I fully trust,” he said. “I worry though that as personnel changes that the rule can be bent.”

The vote’s effect is immediate, meaning that as of the moment it was taken the Moore League transfer rule is officially gone.


Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.