Proposal to lift travel restriction passes 1st hurdle

High Schools

April 23, 2005|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Maryland's governing body for public high school athletics yesterday narrowly approved an unprecedented move that could lift its travel restriction of 600 miles round trip and sanction nationwide competition.

The proposal survived a 26-23 vote by the state association's Board of Control - comprised of principals, county athletic supervisors, athletic directors and coaches - at its semiannual meeting in Ocean City.

But before it could go into effect, perhaps in the spring of 2006, "the idea must be endorsed by local superintendents of schools, and then be formally adopted by the state Board of Education," said Ned Sparks, director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association.

Any long trips "must result in no loss of instructional time and meet the criteria of each local school district for field trips," Sparks said of a move that could be considered by the superintendents next month.

Baltimore City was the lone area district to favor the proposal, countering Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties. Before joining the MPSSAA in 1993, city basketball teams were known to compete in California or Hawaii.

"It would be great for city schools to be able to travel [nationwide]," said city athletic director Bob Wade, who traveled to Hawaii while coaching Dunbar basketball teams through the late 1980s.

Lake Clifton played in the Sacramento Exchange tournament in 1991, and Western's girls played in Anchorage, Alaska, in '92. During '91-92, when it won the mythical national title, Dunbar of Pete Pompey played in Honolulu, St. Louis and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"If it passes," said Pompey, now at Edmondson, "city kids can go to Edmondson, Dunbar or Lake Clifton and still have the chance to play in California or Hawaii - something [private] schools can say right now."

But "in these days of limited resources for athletics," said Baltimore County's Ron Belinko, "it doesn't seem frugal to raise thousands of dollars to send kids across the country when there's plenty of competition within the current travel restrictions to satisfy that need."

Sun staff writer Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.

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