Squawking over sports transfers is unwarranted


September 16, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

It's often been said that great teams and winning programs open doors for collegiate opportunities.

Mythical national high school basketball champion Dunbar of Baltimore is one such team, but this week the Poets might have opened the doors for everyone.

Norman Nolan, The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro center as a sophomore from Milford Mill in Baltimore County, has transferred to Dunbar. Athletic transfer?

Of course, it is. But is it legal under the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association guidelines?

Yes, it is. No specific rules prevent it even when it is obvious that a student-athlete is transferring to play at a top-notch program.

It's called open enrollment, and with Nolan jumping from Baltimore County to Baltimore City with both schools under the MPSSAA umbrella, how can anyone stop any other student-athlete from picking the school that suits him best athletically?

Could the state stop an Anne Arundel student from transferring to North County because he's a quarterback and wants to play for Chuck "Run and Shoot" Markiewicz?

How about a promising basketball player wanting to play for John Brady at Annapolis, a baseball player wanting to play for Bernie Walter at Arundel, or a sprinter wanting to run track for Ron Evans at Old Mill?

Can athletic transfers be stopped? No, they really can't be, and why should they be if the requirements are met?

While it's been done many times before around the state, the fact that nationally acclaimed Dunbar just joined the state organization could lead to the perception that the official stamp of approval for athletic transfers has been granted.

There is no question that the 6-foot-7 Nolan will get more exposure, more fan support and better competition at Dunbar.

With Nolan back as a junior, Milford Mill might have challenged Dunbar for the state Class 1A championship, but the exposure he will get playing for the Poets is immeasurable.

For Dunbar and others to say that Nolan's transfer is academically related is hypocritical.

Minnesota allows open enrollment. Maryland actually does too, but officials just won't admit it publicly. As long as a student-athlete meets the state's eligibility rules, he can play wherever he wants, and I don't see anything wrong with that.

Under Chapter 03, Interscholastic Athletics in the State, Section .02, Eligibility, defines the criteria for participating in interscholastic athletics.

It reads: "Students shall be officially registered and attending a MPSSAA member school. They may represent only the school in which they are registered and at which it is anticipated they will complete their graduation requirements.

"Ninth-grade public school students, who reside in the attendance area of a high school organized 10-12, may participate in the interscholastic athletic program of that high school."

All a student has to do is meet the requirements. Being registered at the school of your choice and residing in its attendance area is what is required. That's if you don't want to pay tuition.

If a student wishes to live in one county and attend school in another, he can do so by paying tuition if accepted into that school.

Anne Arundel is believed to be the only county in the state that has a monitoring system concerning athletic transfers. The state gets off the hook by giving the power to the individual counties to govern their own programs.

Under the MPSSAA .01 Authorization, Section B, it says, "Local school systems may adopt rules governing their athletic programs that are more restrictive than those of the MPSSAA. Less restrictive rules may not be adopted."

Anne Arundel's rules are more restrictive. County policy says any time a transfer-requesting student is an athlete, the principal has to notify the coordinator of physical education for a follow-up.

Retired coordinator Paul Rusko and a committee proposed a few years ago that an athletic transfer sit out one year in his sport. It never was passed by the board and maybe that's just as well.

We have a tendency to think only of a star, such as a Norman Nolan, jumping ship. What about the not-so-talented athlete wanting to transfer from a big 4A school to a 2A or 1A school to get the chance to play?

We all know how times have drastically changed, and this has become a world of specialization. College costs have escalated to such incredible proportions that athletic scholarships are more important than ever before, and for many who don't get one, it means not going to college at all.

I don't believe there would be a ruckus if a mythology or advanced calculus student transferred for a more challenging instructor or course at another public school.

So, why should we squawk if an athlete meets the academic requirements and wants to expand his options by transferring to the school that is best for him?

Aren't athletics rightfully part of the educational system?

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