Sev. Park coach to appeal his suspension

Purpura was suspended for using ineligible runner

Cross country

High Schools

October 05, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Severna Park cross country coach Ed Purpura is appealing a ruling by the Anne Arundel County board of arbitration that suspended the 15-year coach for the rest of the fall season for using an ineligible runner.

Purpura, The Sun's Anne Arundel County Boys Coach of the Year in cross country last season, said yesterday that he filed an appeal Thursday with the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association, asking the state organization to reduce the terms of the suspension.

Purpura, who admitted allowing the ineligible runner to compete in two races last month and reported himself to school officials, said the county board's decision Monday to suspend him for the rest of the fall season was too harsh.

"I thought it was a miscarriage of justice," said Purpura, who will be replaced by assistant coach Mary Seidel. "I served a one-meet suspension the week before, and my principal thought that would be adequate, along with whatever censure was handed down. ... Everybody I have talked with has felt it was too severe."

Purpura said he turned himself in two weeks ago when he learned that the athlete in question had run in two JV races - at a county meet at Arundel High and at the Knights Invitational at Baybrook Park.

Purpura, whose boys team forfeited all of its points from the two meets, said the runner had been told he could not represent the school in meets until his grades had improved. Somehow, Purpura said, the athlete managed to run in the races until an assistant informed him of the error.

Purpura said the county board's ruling sets a bad precedent.

"I think this sends a bad message that if you make a mistake and you report yourself, you will get hammered for it," he said. "He was a JV runner who had never run before. It's not like I tried to pull something on anyone."

Marlene Kelly, the county's coordinator of athletics, was unavailable for comment.

Broadneck coach Dana Dobbs, one of Purpura's closest friends and toughest rivals, said that while the head coach is "ultimately responsible" for preventing ineligible runners from competing, he did not agree with the length of the suspension.

"I learned much of what I know about cross country from Ed," Dobbs said. "He produces nothing but winners. ... I don't know all the details, but it does seem heavy."

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