SAMOHI — A key transfer who was expected to contribute immediately to Santa Monica’s girls basketball team has been denied eligibility by the California Interscholastic Federation.

CIF Southern Section officials determined in late December that Bianka Balthazar, a junior from Arizona, had prior contact with a coach who was previously on staff at Samohi. Such activity is a violation of CIF bylaw 510 under “prior contact,” CIF Director of Communications Director Thom Simmons said.

“The coach in question met the student-athlete through a club situation,” Simmons said. It is common for high school staff to coach club teams during the offseason.

As a result of CIF’s ruling, Balthazar will be required to sit out the season, but will be allowed to attend Samohi. She will not be allowed to play for the team until Oct. 13, 2010, one year from the time she enrolled at Samohi.

Simmons said that she is allowed to practice with the team, but is prohibited from competing during games or scrimmages. He added that the school will face no sanctions as a result of the decision.

Head Coach Marty Verdugo said late last month that the team will file an appeal, but was unsure how long that process would take.

Samohi is scheduled to return to play on Jan. 9 at Redondo. The Vikings are 8-4 on the season.

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