The Sac-Joaquin Section came into being as a result of the division of the old Northern Section of the CIF into two Sections; the Northern Section and the Sac-Joaquin Section. Agitation for the formation of the new Section was started by the principals of the old Central High School Athletic League in 1941. The principals felt that the Northern Section, as then constituted, was too large for efficient operation.

By agreement with the State Federated Council of the CIF and the Board of Managers of the Northern Section, the Section was organized in March 1942 and started to function in September 1942. Coach Joe Debely of Turlock High School suggested the name Sac-Joaquin for the new Section. This suggestion was approved. A committee comprised of Mr. Shull, principal of Modesto High School; Mr. Ellis, principal of Stockton High School; and Mr. Murphy, principal of Sacramento High School, worked on the organization of the Section and this group was asked to continue its service and write a constitution. This committee did. It recommended a constitution that was adopted in September 1944.

The Section is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation, which is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations, organized in May 1920. The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section has only had 4 commissioners. James Cave (1942-1968), Clarke C. Coover (1968-1993), Peter J. Saco (1993-2014), Michael S. Garrison (2014-present).

The Sac-Joaquin Section governs interscholastic athletics, promoting equity, quality, character, and academic development. In high school athletic competitions, the idea of victory with honor still carries meaning.  And it is the ideal that drives everything we do.  We strengthen the integrity of students and adults across the state by promoting sportsmanship, honesty, and quality academics. That means fostering the highest principles of character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship. The Sac-Joaquin Section is a NON-PROFIT California corporation owned and operated by its member schools. The Sac-Joaquin Section does not receive any direct financial support from the State or Federal Government (taxes, lottery, etc.). Dues paid by the Sac-Joaquin Section member schools account for the Sac-Joaquin Section’s annual budget. Marketing sponsorships, merchandise sales, and investments help offset general operating costs. All net proceeds from the Championship events go back to the school sites at the end of each fiscal year. The amount received by the school sites varies according to the number of sports offered by the specific athletic program; program success is not a variable. 


  • 2nd largest section in the State
  • 26 Leagues
  • 198 Schools
  • Covering more than 14,500 square miles of California
  • Reaching 225,000 students