MIAA rules force John Carroll out of county football

January 15, 1995|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

The dissolution of the Maryland Scholastic Association and the resulting formation of a new athletic conference continues to have a domino effect on old member schools.

John Carroll is the latest to be caught in the middle, as it has had to withdraw from the Harford County League in football, effective the 1995 season.

The school will be able to continue its current county affiliations, however, in other sports -- cross country, track and field, girls volleyball, swimming and baseball -- through the spring of 1996.

When the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association drew up its constitution last spring, Article III, Section 3 stated all MIAA members must play all sports.

"At the May meeting, we posed the possibility of John Carroll being 'grandfathered,' and allowed to continue the way we were, but we were told 'no,'" said John Carroll athletic director Jerry O'Brien.

There was a precedent for the request, as the MSA had passed a constitutional amendment in 1987 requiring all member schools to participate in all sports offered by the association. At that time, four schools asked to be exempt from the ruling, and John Carroll's was the only one granted.

This time, "We pointed out some differences -- no cross country, no volleyball, no coed swimming -- and such hardships as travel, and they were ready to waive those team requests, but not football, baseball or softball," O'Brien said.

"We went to Harford County, where we were told we had to either go with all sports, or choose the MIAA. We decided on the MIAA, because we have more in common with those schools, and we would be one of the charter members [there are currently 19, with two applications pending].

"The constitution was ratified in June, and we were given a

two-year extension to comply completely."

The early departure of football was prompted by knowing contracts usually are for two years, and John Carroll would be able to fulfill its commitment for only one year.

"We asked the county if it would be better if we left now, and it was so agreed," O'Brien said.

John Carroll's girls teams participate in two noncounty leagues already -- the Catholic League for soccer and basketball, and the Association of Independent Schools for field hockey, lacrosse and tennis, and those affiliations will continue. There is also the possibility the Catholic League will add volleyball by the end of the waiver period.

At the same time, Jack McCracken, supervisor of public schools athletics for Harford County, has indicated he would be willing to try and work out a solution for boys volleyball, for instance, where no other such program is available.

McCracken said, "It has been a great relationship. There weren't any problems, and we wish them well."

Earlier, in a letter to O'Brien, the supervisor wrote, "The Harford County schools have enjoyed the competition. It has been educationally successful and promoted quality programs to the benefit of all students."

A 1976 agreement between the county and John Carroll School allowed the Patriots to play football in the Harford County League, and another agreement in 1981 permitted the private school to be included in county competitions in cross country, volleyball, swimming, baseball, softball, and track and field.

In 1983, as the result of another meeting that included the principals of the nine public high schools, it was proposed John Carroll compete in all county sports.

"We said we would do it if we could be eligible for regional and state tournaments," O'Brien said. "The request was denied, the proposal withdrawn, and it was agreed to keep the status quo."

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