Rarely is Ned Sparks critical of the NCAA. But when discussing its initial-eligibility clearinghouse program last week, the state association's executive secretary spoke up.
"They really dropped the ball on this one," said Sparks, secretary of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
The central clearinghouse system, which went into effect during the 1993-94 academic year, is designed to assure that colleges nationwide adhere to uniform standards of freshman eligibility.
To that end, all prospective college athletes must submit their junior year transcripts to the central clearinghouse and maintain their grades to meet NCAA requirements for freshman eligibility, which include a list of core courses.
No college Division I or II institution, coach or recruiter can approach a student who has not registered with the clearinghouse.
But the registration process can be a lengthy and complex one, requiring the student to mail a packet that includes a completed registration form and high school transcripts. The student's high school then must send in a standard 48-H form, which lists the school's core courses that meet NCAA requirements.
That enables the clearinghouse to check the student's progress in meeting NCAA requirements.
"In the absence of that 48-H form for the current academic year, no student from that entire high school can be certified as eligible," said Ron Belinko, MPSSAA president and coordinator of Baltimore County athletics.
"The two documents must correlate exactly. So it's critical that when the school sends in that form 48-H, it lists each course exactly as it appears on an official transcript."
Belinko and Sparks say the NCAA has done an inadequate job of informing high school guidance offices nationwide of the importance of their roles and of staffing its clearinghouse.
"Try calling the number and it'll take you all day to get through -- they're just overwhelmed," said Belinko.
Overlea soccer coach Doug Eisenhauer has educated himself and his athletes.
"I attended a workshop while at the national soccer coaches convention and learned about this for the first time last January," said Eisenhauer. "It's going to take an extra effort on the coaches' part to make sure everything is done properly."
Working on quarterbacks
A day after No. 8 Mount St. Joseph sophomore quarterback Lucas Phillips threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-39 upset of then-No. 4 Gilman, Washington Redskins rookie Gus Frerotte made his pro debut by passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns -- the best by a Redskins rookie.
The connection? Mount St. Joseph coach Mike Working.
Working was an assistant coach at Tulsa when Frerotte subbed for injured four-year starter T. J. Rubley in 1990. Working also coached Rubley, now with the Los Angeles Rams.
He coached McDonogh's Bobby Sabelhaus, who is among the nation's most highly recruited senior quarterbacks, for two years. Working also has touched the lives of other quarterbacks.
Working assisted Florida State coach Bobby Bowden in 1975 when Dan Kendra Sr. played. Dan Sr. now coaches his son, Dan Jr., at Bethlehem (Pa.) Catholic. Dan Jr., like Sabelhaus, is being recruited by some of the country's best programs.
As head coach at Appalachian State in 1980, Working helped coach Steve Brown to Southern Conference Player of the Year honors. A year earlier, as an assistant at Wake Forest, Working coached Jay Venuto to an excellent season.
On the mend
Teresa Love of Mount de Sales set a cross country course record last Wednesday at the Sailors' campus, covering the 2.5-mile course in 15 minutes, 48 seconds.
For Love, a senior who had missed most of the season because of an illness, it was her first victory.
Big game for Poly
For only the second time in the 35-year history of their rivalry, Salesianum (Del.) is coming to Poly to play football.
The game, slated for 1 p.m., is expected to draw a huge crowd, say football coach Augie Waibel and athletic director Mark Schlenoff.
Durant named a hero?
Baltimore resident Ralph Durant was recognized in the Oct. 19 edition of USA Today as Maryland's representative of Sporting Goods Manufacturers of America's inaugural heroes to kids program. The SGMA will name him or one of the 49 others as its national hero on Feb. 4 in its Super Show in Atlanta.
Durant has overseen the success of the Ed Waters Track Club, which, in association with the Baltimore City Department of Parks and Recreation, has produced high school athletes with national-caliber talent.