CIF Southern Section

CIF Southern Section

CIF Southern Section
Abbreviation CIFSS
Formation 1913
Type NPO
Legal status Association
Purpose Athletic/Educational
Headquarters 10932 Pine Street
Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Region served
Southern California
Rob Wigod
Main organ
California Interscholastic Federation

The CIF Southern Section (CIF-SS) is the governing body for high school athletics in most of Southern California and is the largest of the ten sections that comprise the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Its membership includes most public and private high schools in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Mono and Inyo counties, as well as a small portion of Kern County. Teams from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and surrounding areas have competed in the CIF Los Angeles City Section since 1935. Needles High School, at the far eastern edge of San Bernardino County, and Coleville High School, in the far north of Mono County, are members of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. CIFSS's offices are located in Los Alamitos.

Founded in 1913, the CIF Southern Section includes over 570 member public and private high schools and is by far the largest CIF section. Three of the ten CIF sections are individual current or former public school districts (Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland). The Southern Section's membership includes all private schools located within the service area of the LAUSD, which includes almost all of the city of Los Angeles plus some adjacent areas outside the city limits. If the CIF Southern Section were a state association, it would be the 10th largest in the United States.

For its first year of operation, the organization was called the Southern California Interscholastic Athletic Council (SCIAC). That acronym was taken over by the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in 1915 after the Southern Section name was established. CIF was officially formed in 1914 and became statewide in 1917.[1] The service area was larger, encompassing what is now the CIF Los Angeles City Section, which broke off in 1935, and the CIF San Diego Section which broke off in 1960. Imperial County was once part of the section as well, but broke off in 2000 to join the San Diego Section.[2] At various points in time, schools in Arizona, Nevada,[3] and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico[4] were part of the section.[1]


  • Commissioners 1
  • History 2
  • Sports 3
    • Fall Season 3.1
    • Winter Season 3.2
    • Spring Season 3.3
  • Leagues 4
  • Playoff divisions 5
  • Sponsors 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


CIFSS 100th Anniversary Logo
  • Seth F. Van Patten (1913-1951)
  • William W. Russell (1951-1954)
  • J. Kenneth Fagans (1954-1975)
  • Thomas E. Byrnes (1975-1980)
  • Ray J. Plutko (1980-1986)
  • Stan Thomas (1986-1993)
  • Dean Crowley (1993-1999)
  • James Staunton, Ed.D. (1999 - 2011)
  • Rob Wigod (2011 to Present)


Collage of CIFSS sports

Ironically, the Southern Section was the outgrowth of a track and field meet. The founding date of the CIF Southern Section is May 15, 1913, when a group of high school officials joined forces to conduct a championship meet, thus ushering in the birth of the Southern Section. Seth F. Van Patten, who was elected Track Manager for the Southern Section in 1913 and who is recognized as the founding father of the CIF-SS, served in that post until 1928 when he was officially named Secretary of the organization. He served as Commissioner until his retirement in 1951. On March 28, 1914, the Southern Section came under the administrative wing of the newly founded California Interscholastic Federation, and has since grown into one of the most progressive and respected organizations of its kind in the world. Our archives date back over 90 years! Despite its lengthy history, the Southern Section lists just eight Commissioners (the term Secretary dropped) with William Russell holding the post from 1951–54, J. Kenneth Fagans being the administrative head from 1954 until his retirement in early 1975, Thomas E. Byrnes accepting the Commissioner’s post in 1975, while Ray Plutko served from 1980 to 1986. Stan Thomas served as Commissioner from July, 1986 to October, 1993 when Dean Crowley was appointed Acting Commissioner and was Commissioner of Athletics from July, 1994 until his retirement in September, 1999. James Staunton Ed.D., served as Commissioner from September 1, 1999, until his retirement on July 31, 2011. Rob Wigod, the current Commissioner, began his service as Commissioner on August 1, 2011 after having served as Assistant Commissioner for 11 years.

CIF SS Headquarters in Los Alamitos, California

Probably of more interest has been the “home” of the Southern Section. At the outset, basements, surplus school rooms and even the homes of secretaries served as the official office. South Pasadena High School graciously permitted the use of one of its rooms during the 30’s, with Oneonta School and South Pasadena High School serving as the home office from 1942 until 1949. There was a period of time the office was in the home of Commissioner Seth VanPatten. Still without an official office, the Southern Section moved its supplies to Helms Hall, a bakery in Culver City in 1949 and remained at the Venice Blvd., site until 1959.[1] It was in February of that year that the Southern Section built its first ever Administration office, the building located on the corners of Carmona and West Washington in Los Angeles. As membership grew and the Sections’ population center moved, so did the CIF-SS office. In 1965, the Section office built and moved into its third home and second devoted strictly to the CIF-SS day-to-day operations. That space was located next to Gahr High School on Artesia Blvd. in the city of Cerritos. That remained the home base of the section until October 2002 when the ever-expanding membership required a larger facility. Thus, the new and current administrative home became the Pine Street location in Los Alamitos.

Historical news clippings of CIFSS sports

The California Interscholastic Federation, Southern Section, is a non-profit corporation organized to direct and control both boys and girls athletics in the secondary schools within the Section. The Southern Section is administered on a day-to-day basis by the Commissioner, four Assistant Commissioners, three directors and a staff of eight support personnel. The Southern Section is not only the oldest, but the largest of 10 such sections in the state—its membership has grown from an original 20 schools to over 585 schools and from 5 leagues to almost 90 leagues.


CIFSS sponsors the following sports:



Playoff divisions

In the post-season, schools are divided into several divisions. Each division played a single elimination tournament to determine the team that will advance to the Section tournament.

11-man football divisions:

  • Eastern Division
  • Central Division
  • Inland Division
  • Mid-Valley Division
  • Northern Division
  • Northwest Division
  • Western Division
  • Southern Division
  • Pac 5 Division
  • East Valley Division
  • Northeast Division
  • Southeast Division
  • Southwest Division

There are only two divisions for 8-man football:

  • 8-Man Div. I
  • 8-Man Div. II


CIFSS's major sponsors include Ford, Spalding, Farmers Insurance, Sports Authority, Gatorade, Russell Athletic, and Maxpreps. CIFSS games are broadcast on Fox Sports West and webcast on Fox Sports PrepZone and


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External links

  • CIF Southern Section Website