SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Capital Christian High School is suing the California Interscholastic Federation, claiming the state’s governing body for high school sports violated its constitutional rights after the football program was banned from the postseason.
According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday, which was first reported by the Sacramento Bee, the school claims the CIF violated its first and 14th amendment rights. The school claims it was targeted, along with other private Christian schools, which formed club teams when high school sports were shut down during the pandemic.
During the shutdown in California, coaches and parents organized the California Association of Private Sports (CAPS) as a club league. They claim it was “carefully reviewed by CIF bylaws to ensure compliance” before it was formed.
The school said student-athletes from public schools in the Sacramento region competed in the CAPS league.
Some teams in the CAPS league fielded teams in two divisions: one for 16-years-old and under and another for 19-years-old and under. The lawsuit claims the league and divisions “mirrored” club basketball teams in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
Capital Christian competed as the Cap City Cougars, during the CAPS league season with both of their teams filled with players from its schools.
The U-16 team consisted of 35 players, 22 of whom attend Capital Christian. The U-19 team had 34 players, 14 of them Capital Christian students. Two coaches from Cap City’s staff previously coached at CCHS.
The facilities at Capital Christian, including the football stadium and sports equipment, were leased out to the CAPS league for $1,500.
The CAPS league played for four weeks, as high school football sanctioned by the CIF was brought back in a shortened season in spring 2021.
During an SJS executive committee hearing in the summer of 2021, the school said it was told by Section Commission Mike Garrison that Captial Christian violated CIF bylaws and guidance from the California Department of Public Health due to its participation in the CAPS league.
“Despite widespread participation in the league by students from the public, private and parochial schools, commissioner Garrison from the start evinced a special interest in CCHS,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit alleges Garrison sat in an elementary school parking lot nearby Capital Christian to “secretly” observed Cap City’s first club game and that he “demanded” copies of the facilities lease from Capital Christian head of school Tim Wong and principal Erik Streelman.
On July 2021, Capital Christian’s football program was banned from the playoffs for the 2021 and 2022 seasons by the Sac-Joaquin Section. The program was also placed in a three-year probation period through the end of the 2023-24 school year.
The school’s entire athletic program was also placed on probation through the end of the 2021-22 academic year. If the school commits any further violations during the probationary period, it could lead to suspension of Capital Christian’s member in the SJS.
Capital Christian claims the school “suffered significant monetary harm” as a result of the CIF’s sanctions. The school said enrollment dropped significantly and students chose to attend other schools.
“As a result, CCHS has lost, and will continue to lose, tuition revenue, which negatively impacts its ability to carry out its Christian mission of providing low-cost education,” the lawsuit said.
In November, just four days before the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled against the school’s request for an appeal of the ban.
The Capital Christian Cougars finished the 2021 season with a 7-3 overall record and went 6-0 in its league.