Two big transfers put debate in focus

High schools: As MIAA ponders a rule change, Rudy Gay of Spalding and Maurice Martin of Calvert Hall leave a bad taste with the public school programs they left behind.

High Schools

March 13, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Rudy Gay of Archbishop Spalding and Maurice Martin of Calvert Hall have more in common than just playing basketball in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Both are juniors who -- Gay at 6 feet 7 and Martin at 6-6 -- tower over most of their classmates. Both live outside of Baltimore, just east of the beltway. And both are looking forward to the days when they get their driver's licenses.

Gay and Martin are linked not just by their basketball skills, but also by where they showcase them.

That's because the two transferred from public schools in Baltimore County after the start of the academic year -- Gay in September and Martin in November. Their moves to two prominent private schools have ignited a debate over whether the MIAA, composed of 26 private and parochial schools around the metro area, should allow such transferring students to immediately play sports.

On May 19, the MIAA's Board of Governors could adopt a proposal that would prohibit a student who transfers from a public school during the academic year from playing varsity sports during that school year. Such transfer students wouldn't be eligible until the next fall.

A look at the circumstances of Gay's and Martin's transfers highlights issues associated with private school recruiting in boys basketball that get some public school coaches as steamed as a questionable call in a tight game.

"I don't think you should touch kids that have been in a program and have had success there," Dulaney basketball coach Rod Norris said. "It just doesn't sit well."

"We don't go to Calvert Hall, Mount St. Joseph and St. Frances trying to get their kids to come to us," said Randallstown coach Kim Rivers, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the area. "Why set up a game with them if they're going to try to steal our kids? That's basically what they're doing. They're stealing our talent."

Already, the move of Gay and Martin from Baltimore County programs has led a number of county basketball coaches to band together and suggest a scheduling boycott against MIAA teams that recruit during the academic year.

Annapolis coach John Brady went a step further in October. He canceled a much-anticipated game with the MIAA A Conference's Archbishop Spalding because of Spalding's addition of Gay, an All-Baltimore City/County swingman formerly of Eastern Tech.

Gay had averaged 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for Eastern Tech as a sophomore. Todd Wade, the Mavericks coach, said the private schools began recruiting Gay during the spring of his sophomore year.

Yearbook warning

Wade, who said he tried to counsel Rudy Gay and his mother, Rae Gay, said the first warning sign that he might lose his star player appeared in a note Gay had written in Wade's yearbook last spring.

"I hope I will see you next year, but it's not my decision anymore," Gay wrote. "It's my mom's. But just in case, thank you. Your son, Rudy."

When Gay missed the first two days of school in September, Wade suspected that Gay had transferred to Archbishop Spalding, located in central Anne Arundel County. But Gay showed up on the third day, Wade said.

"He gave me a look like he wasn't staying for very long," Wade recalled. "So I said, `Tell me when you're going to be here for good.' He said, `OK.' Then, a week and a half later, I asked, `Are you here for good?' He said, `I'm here for good, Coach.' "

Wade said Gay was absent from classes at Eastern Tech a week later. A phone conversation between coach and player confirmed Gay had transferred to Spalding.

Wade said he harbored no ill will toward Gay or his family. Though he held himself partially responsible for not doing more to retain Gay, Wade directed most of the blame at the MIAA, which concluded in its investigation that Spalding committed no violations.

"There are no consequences," Wade said. "They can just do what they want. The Catholic League [Spalding and many other MIAA schools have dual memberships] has their own rules. They do whatever they want, whenever they want."

Shortly after Annapolis' Brady confirmed the news about Gay's transfer, the coach canceled the game between two of Anne Arundel County's basketball powers.

"Why should I allow a team to be showcased against us that recruited a kid from a public school?" Brady said. "If someone wants to recruit a kid in the eighth grade, I don't have a problem with that. But once a kid starts high school -- whether it's public or private -- that should end it."

Spalding backs decision

Rudy Gay and his mother declined several requests to be interviewed for this article, and Archbishop Spalding coach Mike Glick and athletic director Lee Dove would not discuss any specifics of Gay's transfer.

"I'm not going to comment on anything with Rudy Gay," Glick said. "No adolescent should be put in a position to be scrutinized for any decision they made in terms of where to go to school for whatever reason."

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