First published in the Oct. 29 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Just days removed from celebrating a stellar regular season that included a second consecutive Pacific League championship, the Burbank High School varsity boys’ water polo team is now lamenting a successful campaign that never was after an unspecified CIF Southern Section rule violation came to light.
BHS Principal Julie Markussen informed families in an email Friday morning that the water polo team had to forfeit its wins “due to self-disclosed pre-enrollment contact with a coach” and is no longer eligible to compete in the upcoming CIF playoffs.
The Burbank Leader contacted Bulldogs head coach David Arakelyan on Friday, but he declined to comment on the matter.
“Burbank High School and the Burbank Unified School District are confident that no coaches, administrators, athletic directors, officials, or staff members made errors during the transfer process. This was strictly an issue of self-disclosure,” Markussen stated in the email.
“In order to educate all stakeholders regarding the proper transfer process, Burbank High School will be working with CIF to provide workshops on the importance of full disclosure on official transfer documents,” she added.
Prior to forfeiting the 2022 campaign, the Bulldogs concluded the regular season with an impressive 18-game win streak and hadn’t suffered defeat since falling to Rancho Cucamonga in a tournament match on Sept. 9. Burbank held an undefeated league record with a spotless 9-0 record (26-2 overall). With nearly every win now nullified, the team moved to sixth place in the league standings.
“Our hearts go out to our players, coaches, parents and community,” Markussen said. “We know that this is a learning opportunity for all and a chance to build an even stronger water polo program for Burbank High School in the future.”
BUSD Superintendent Matt Hill echoed the Burbank principal’s message and told the Leader that he felt “awful for the student athletes.”
“We know they worked so hard at this point and unfortunately there was a violation. We have to work with CIF to deal with the consequences,” Hill added.