The county school board's decision to increase the minimum grade point average for students participating in high school sports came as no surprise to coaches or players.
But the swiftness of the action stunned some coaches and upset others.
"I think they have done this prematurely," said Severna Park athletic director and football coach Andy Borland. "On one hand it's discriminating. They are picking on a specific group and saying you have to be better than everyone else."
The school board Wednesday voted 6-1, with one board member abstaining, to raise the minimum GPA required to participate in sports from a 1.6 to a 2.0, beginning with the winter sports season.
Also, students would be barred from playing if they have a failing grade.
Mr. Borland said the state does not apply such high standards to its graduates.
"I really think this should have been done with a little more study. I think it shouldn't have been done by new people who don't know the
background and don't know what they're doing," Mr. Borland added.
Newly elected board members Michael Pace and Joseph Foster and student board member Jay Witcher helped to give the board majority of votes to pass the rule.
Other coaches said they favor the board's decision.
Old Mill High School football coach Pete Regala said he knew the school system was considering raising minimum, but the decision will have little effect on his players. Mr. Regala told his players last year they would have to maintain a 2.0 GPA in order to play for him.
"As a coach, I feel that if a student has any ambition of going to college then they've got to be somewhere in the neighborhood of the 2.5 minimum the NCAA has moved to," Mr. Regala said. "As a coach, I see no way they can get a scholarship with anything less than a 2.0. Meade High School basketball coach Butch Young said he, too, was surprised by the quickness of the board's decision. But, Mr. Young said he generally favors the move.
"I don't know what things are like at other schools, but I suspect we have it a little worse here . . . Last year I counted 529 students who were ineligible to participate in any activities. That's out of about 1,500," Mr. Young said.
Mr. Young said he has talked to many students who do the minimum amount of work to achieve the minimum GPA to play sports.
Sixteen-year-old Meade High senior Tom Stevens will begin his third year on the school's basketball team this year. Tom maintains a 3.7 GPA and worries about some of his team members, many of whom had trouble maintaining the 1.6 GPA.
"We lost about six or seven to the 1.6 last year," said Tom, who favors the increase.
"A 1.6 is not hard to get. We have tutoring available in the school but most people just don't want to go."