There’s a lot a person can learn from sitting through four hours of meetings at NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville.
And what became obvious Wednesday is that the organization no longer can afford to dance around the issue of transfers in high school sports.
A proposal by athletic directors John DiColo of Jefferson and Bill Edelman of Vernon to increase the ineligible time for athletes who transfer from public to non-public or choice schools and barring them from the postseason — while allowing athletes who do the opposite to become immediately eligible for all competition — took its first step in the association’s approval process Wednesday.
This likely isn’t the answer because of the difficulty of defending a rule that — at its heart — treats students entitled to the education of their choice differently. That point was brought up by association attorney Steve Goodell, who would have to make the argument before a court.
But it illustrates the frustration that has built up among public school coaches and administrators — to a similar level that resulted in the statewide realignment that created super conferences like the Big North and NJIC.
In wrestling alone, the top four teams in The Record final Top 25 were non-public schools, and 12 of the 14 titles in Region 2 were won by non-public wrestlers. Statewide, five of the top six teams were non-public or choice schools.
Non-public and choice schools have the advantage of a larger pool of athletes because they have no geographic boundary to limit them, as public schools do.
This is a fundamental difference that needs to be met head on, not with piecemeal proposals made to the NJSIAA every year.
It’s time to put together a group that will take the time to look at this problem objectively, not as a public vs. non-public issue, but as an athletic and educational issue.
Collect the numbers of who transfers and where they go. Find out which programs don’t see their athletes transfer and find out what they’re doing to prevent it.
Then come back with a well-thought-out policy rather than another proposal.
And with luck, try to check the biases at the door.