After days of excitement and celebration the Palomar College women’s basketball team was notified the day before playoffs they were not going after all.
The Cerritos College Falcons replaced the Comets after an official appeal was made. Palomar was not given enough time to re-appeal because the team was not informed until the day before regionals according to Women’s Head Basketball Coach Leigh Marshall.
There were 18 teams that moved on to regionals. Palomar, which belongs to the Pacific Athletic Coast Conference, was ranked 19 after the appeal was finalized, thus taking the team out of the playoffs.
Palomar College Athletic Director Scott Cathcart described it as, “last one in, first one out.”
Sophomore basketball player Bianca Littleton said she never saw her coach cry the way she did after telling the team the bad news.
“It was probably the worst experience I’ve had as a head coach,” Marshall said.
According to Marshall the women’s basketball seeding committee decided which teams were going to regionals after evaluating each team’s end-of-season records and rankings. When the Falcons discovered they were not on the list, the South Coast Conference college made an appeal to the state and won.
The appeal made by Cerritos was based on the seeding committee not considering the SCC as two separate divisions. SCC Commissioner Rich Kollen said the seeding committee does not have the right to pick and choose the format.
The decision to replace the Comets was on a “numbers-based determining process,” according to Cathcart. Cerritos had a higher rating percentage index than Palomar after the separation of divisions was recognized.
PCC Commissioner John Woods said in an email response, “The issue developed because the SCC did not clarify the format in their Basketball Supplement. They should have indicated that they were divided into two divisions. They did not. That is the basis for the original placement of the teams by the committee.”
According to Marshall the final decision to bump Palomar out of the playoffs was up to one man, Carlyle Carter. He is the executive director of the California Community College Athletic Association.
In a statement released by the Cerritos College official athletic website Carter wrote, “the seeding committee decided to treat the individual divisional members of the SCC as one conference and apply the ‘multiplier’ accordingly.”
Carter asked that a re-run of the numbers take place. According to the statement Carter said, “In my opinion, the decision must be to insert the team that was in by the proper application of the methodology and replace Palomar with Cerritos.”
He said with 10 teams in the conference the SCC was eligible to be separated in two divisions.
Kollen said the committee penalized Cerritos because no paperwork was submitted that officially declared the split of the conference. Everyone in the state recognized the separation of the SCC, but the seeding committee failed to do so.
He said this was a mistake made by the seeding committee and if they did it right to begin with, Palomar never would have gotten its hopes up.
“It boils down to what is right and wrong… and the committee was wrong,” Kollen said. “Unfortunately it hurt Palomar, but it was done correctly in the end.”
The fault was on the conference because they didn’t fill out the proper paperwork, Marshall said.
“We don’t believe there was a mistake made, but if there was, a team should not be taken out because of it,” she said.
“There are no winners in this at all,” Kollen said. “There is fault to be blamed on everybody.”
Marshall said the only positive thing that can come from this situation is that awareness of the problem may prevent it from happening again in the future.