Sitting on bench would be bitter if a pay-to-play fee is required


February 14, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Will Howard County become the first Baltimore metropolitan county to institute a participation fee for athletes?

Director of Athletics Don Disney thinks there's a possibility of that happening during school budget deliberations this week.

He says that transportation is the second largest item in the sports budget -- about $320,000 per year. And the school system is thinking of making some drastic cuts to its transportation budget -- cuts that could trigger sports user fees to pay bus costs.

A pay-to-play fee is already in place in some parts of the country.

Susan Cook, school board chairman, said she thought such a move was very unlikely, and that she would not be inclined to vote for it.

Coaches and athletes obviously would be unhappy with such a fee.

"If everyone has to pay to play, then how do you tell someone who's [sitting on the bench] not playing that he can't play? That bothers me," Atholton basketball coach Jim Albert said. "I can't understand a county with the wealth of this one not being able to support athletics."

Centennial football coach Ed Holshue said he wouldn't be surprised by such a fee.

"They batted it around last year. I'd pay [the fee] myself before I'd allow a disadvantaged kid not to play," Holshue said. "You'll be seeing even more fund-raisers."

Discipline 2, Winning 0

This seems to be a year in which discipline has demonstratively taken a front seat to winning among school coaches and administrators.

Last week there were two more cases of teams possibly losing because prominent athletes were being disciplined.

The Centennial wrestling team, celebrating its greatest season since its 1981 state championship, has posted a 10-3 overall record and finished second in the county at 6-1.

Its team leader, and defending state champion, Joon Kim, received a school disciplinary action that kept him out of last Wednesday's regional dual-meet championships.

The Eagles lost to Westminster, 35-26. Kim was expected to earn a pin, which would have meant a nine-point reversal in the score and a tie. And Centennial would have won the title on criteria because it would have won seven of the 13 matches.

"I tell my athletes that everything you do on or off the mat reflects on the team, and I won't even put up with a wrestler throwing his headgear on the mat," Centennial coach Todd HTC DeCrispino said. "We still should have beaten Westminster without Joon."

Hammond basketball coach Mike Mongelli obviously doesn't come from the Vince Lombardi school of coaching. Earlier this season he dismissed his best player from the team for disciplinary reasons. Last week, Mongelli was back at it.

He took team disciplinary action against two starters, Karl Friedheim and Mike Bright, by not playing them in Friday's showdown with league-leading Centennial.

Hammond, which trailed Centennial by two games in the standings, lost to the Eagles, 52-45, essentially ending its chance for a county title.

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