BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A proposed bill in the California Senate would mandate that all high school football state championship games be played at neutral sites.
Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) introduced bill SB-486 on Tuesday.
The bill aims at ensuring rural schools be treated “equally” when it comes to host sites for California Interscholastic Federation football championship games.
The bill comes months after Shafter High School played and lost a CIF football championship game on a field that was wet and muddy hosted at Orland High School. Shafter head football coach Jerald Pierucci was furious following the game and went on a tirade against the CIF about the playing conditions.
“It is a shame on the CIF that they allow a state championship game to be played on a field like this when you got Division 1 and 2 teams playing on turf. It is crap that you allow this stuff to happen,” Pierucci said following the game on Dec. 10.
Orland High School won the Division 5-A state title game, 20-7.
In lower divisions, higher-seeded teams host their division’s championship games.
The bill would add Section 33353.8 to the Education Code to read: “The California Interscholastic Federation shall hold all state football championship games at a neutral location that is comparable to the location of all other championship games.”
“Games need to be played on an equal footing and not relegate rural and small schools to unequal treatment,” Hurtado tweeted.
Five of the 15 high school football state championship games were held at a neutral site — Saddleback College — in 2022. According to the bill, college stadiums typically have turf fields that are less impacted by inclement weather and have access to better medical facilities.
Hurtado said there are enough college facilities in the state to host the championship games.
“By requiring state football championship games to be held at neutral locations,” the bill reads, “all teams will get a fair and equal playing experience.”
Liberty High School played its Division 1-A state championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.