After 75 years, MSA votes itself out of existence

September 14, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Representatives of the Maryland Scholastic Association's member schools voted last night to dissolve the organization that has governed area boys high school athletics for 75 years.

In an Aug. 25 meeting, MSA vice president Mark Schlenoff and several other MSA officials had concluded there was no reason for the 35-member MSA to continue after its 15 public school members in Baltimore had joined the statewide Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

In a 20-5 vote at Gilman last night, members present also decided to discontinue the MSA name but to maintain financial support -- such as paying for trophies and officials -- through the 1993-94 seasons in all sports.

The MSA was made up of city public high schools and private and parochial schools throughout the area.

"It's important to emphasize that there was no acrimony from either the public schools or private schools tonight," said MSA president Vince Bagli.

"They [private schools] didn't kick us out," said Forest Park football coach and athletic director Obie Barnes. "And it's important to note that both sides left with a good feeling. It's no one's fault, and we're going to continue to try to schedule each other."

"It came up that there's nothing really holding it [the MSA] together," said Schlenoff, Poly's athletic director. "We were all in agreement that it was better to fold rather than drag on any further and try to force anyone to be in a league they no longer wanted to be in. That way, maybe we could retain some of the friendly relationships we've established."

Bagli said private and parochial school members plan to form their own league.

The MSA began to unravel in June 1992, when the public schools in the MSA -- in accordance with a mandate by schools superintendent Walter G. Amprey -- joined the MPSSAA, which governs public high school sports throughout the state and holds state championships.

The action put the girls programs at city schools on equal footing with the boys for the first time. The MSA included only boys, leaving the girls without an athletic organization.

Twice last May, athletic directors from independent and parochial schools met to try to save the MSA.

According to Schlenoff, their solutions "were not strong enough" to convince the public schools to risk their chances of competing in the state playoffs by continuing to compete in traditional MSA leagues.

The MPSSAA classifies schools by enrollment. The MSA has grouped teams according to their competitive histories. Teams qualify for the MPSSAA's playoffs via a point system that awards more points for beating larger schools than for beating smaller ones.

With the exception of Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph (both 4A schools by enrollment), MSA private and parochial schools were 1A size.

"That's what really started the whole thing," said Schlenoff "We'd be losing playoff points by playing the private schools."

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