Because they played in a girls club soccer tournament Monday, at least "three or four" athletes were barred from playing in their high school games yesterday, confirmed Paul Rusko, acting county coordinatorof physical education.
Rusko said the girls missed at least part of the school day and practice to play in the Washington Area Girls Soccer League Tournament, one of the nation's largest and most prestigious youth tournaments.
Playing in the tournament violated a Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rule that states that outside participation cannot conflict with an athlete's high school practice or games. One of the athlete's schools turned itself in Monday morning to Rusko, who immediately contacted MPSSAA Executive Secretary Ned Sparks.
"Right now, we're just looking at two schools, and we're just talking about three or four girls," said Rusko last night. "When the one school called saying that there might be a problem, we then found out about the possibility of another. And when we called the other school, they told us they were about to call us anyway."
Rusko will convenea meeting with three principals, three athletic directors and a representative of the coaches association tomorrow to determine sanctionsfor the violation.
He said they can choose to suspend each of thegirls from the sport for 60 school days or for this and the following school year. The coach can be censured and declared ineligible to coach the sport for the current school year, and he also can be barredfrom coaching any other sport for the rest of the school year.
"No one's passed any judgment on them, and we've only alleged that there is a violation," said Rusko. "We just told the schools to hold the girls out today until after the hearing, just to be safe."
Chesapeake girls soccer coach Lin Sullivan confirmed that two players from his team and two from Meade were affected by the rule. The four players, who were not named, watched in street clothes as the Cougars defeated the Mustangs, 5-1, yesterday.
Sullivan said he was told by Principal Harry Calender just before the end of the school day that his players should not compete.
"I knew last night that I had one problem, but I did not know until 10 minutes till 2 (p.m.) that I had twoproblems," said Sullivan. "If there's a bad guy here, it's unfortunate that the outside association, knowing what the state rules are, would schedule a tournament during the season. That puts the girls in the situation of missing the tournament or jeopardizing their high school career.
"I think that had they waited until after the season, you're not talking about a long time, then we wouldn't have this situation. But it's very unfortunate that kids who want to play ball findthemselves in this situation.
"They're the kids who are the best players and who take this seriously. They are looking for scholarships and want the opportunity to earn them. I think they should have that opportunity, and I don't like the rule. But they (the rule-makers) don't have to ask me."
St. Mary's coach Jerry Tobin said four of his players participated in the tournament, returned to Annapolis before school ended and played in the Saints' 4-1 victory over John Carroll.
"We (private schools) do not have any rules that affect the girls playing in club tournaments, and I fully support playing club ball," said Tobin. "I think that it's an unfair rule, and I think that the school board forgets that they're there to help the girls. Puttingrestrictions on them makes absolutely no sense."