Is it time for Baltimore city public schools to join the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association?
Patterson athletic director Roger Wrenn says yes, but Dunbar athletic director Pete Pompey disagrees.
Two weeks ago, Wrenn distributed letters to his counterparts at the city's 16 high schools asking them to consult with their principals as to whether the schools are interested in joining the MPSSAA along with Patterson.
Membership in the MPSSAA would allow the city schools to compete for state titles with other public schools throughout the state.
This week, Wrenn said that he has gotten positive responses from five schools and anticipates positive responses from at least two others, although Dunbar may not be among that group.
"I don't see where the advantages are to us except the girls [program]," said Pompey, who also coaches football and basketball. "If the MSA [Maryland Scholastic Association] provides for the girls, then the state loses that advantage."
All of the city public schools except Western are members of the Maryland Scholastic Association. Western is an all-girls school, and the MSA provides competition only for boys sports.
Pompey questioned the strength of competition his top-flight basketball program would find in the state tournament.
"I think Dunbar would have to play a [Class] 1A schedule [actually 2A]. We already play in the best basketball league," said Pompey.
This is not the first time this issue has been discussed. However, the discussions have become more serious now that the city schools have learned that individual schools may apply for membership.
The deadline for applications for membership for the 1991-92 season is today, but none of the city schools is expected to
apply for membership for next season.
"We're kind of aiming for next May," said Wrenn. "There are a number of things that have to happen. We need to find out who wants to explore the possibility and arrange meetings with those schools and Ned Sparks [the executive secretary of the MPSSAA]."
Sparks met last summer with a group of city school principals on the same issue. From that meeting, he said, he concluded that the city schools are considering membership but that "they are still having difficulties accepting a particular bylaw."
That bylaw is the one that does not allow a team to travel more than 600 miles round trip to compete in a game or tournament.
Most of the city school teams would not be affected by that rule, but it would put a cap on the basketball teams at Dunbar and Lake Clifton, which have gone as far as Las Vegas, Sacramento, Calif., and Hawaii.
Still, there may be a way to get around that obstacle, Southern athletic director Don Wade said.
"The only drawback I have about joining is the travel, but I understand a waiver can be obtained," he said. "With the exception of that, everything else we're in favor of."
City schools' classifications
Here is a list of the 16 Baltimore City senior high schools and their state classification using the MPSSAA 1990-91 student population figures:
* Class 4A -- Mervo.
* Class 3A -- Poly, Carver, City, Edmondson, Lake Clifton, Patterson, Walbrook, Western.
* Class 2A -- Douglass, Dunbar, Northern, Northwestern, Southern.
* Class 1A -- Forest Park, Southwestern.