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Commentary: Gorman's big concession ... follow the rules
by Dan Eckles
Jul 03, 2012 | 1186 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the state’s governing body for high school sports, held its quarterly meeting at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The meeting was highly anticipated because officials from state athletic power Bishop Gorman were expected to respond to the issue of competitive imbalance.

Gorman school officials had already blown off an invitation to take part in an early May public school-private school committee meeting to discuss that issue, citing unfair make-up of the committee. So by the time last week’s NIAA meeting rolled around, many around the state were curious to hear what Gorman had to say for itself.

Many critics in the Silver State have long seen BGHS as carrying a ‘”Holier than thou attitude.” So when Gorman President John Kilduff came into last week’s NIAA meeting carrying a 4-foot by 3-foot poster board outlining six areas Gorman would address to help resolve debate on the competitive imbalance issue while asking for three things in return, he didn’t do a lot help ease that stigma.

Nothing says condescending like a guy in a suit using a poster board with big bold print, talking down to a group of educated professionals.

Kilduff said Gorman will address areas to try and help alleviate the concerns of others regarding the private Catholic Las Vegas school and fair play. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal among those were:

•Require parents/guardians and student-athletes to sign a form agreeing to abide by NIAA rules and regulations addressing recruiting and tuition assistance, and agree that they understand the consequences for violation of these rules range from ineligibility to expulsion;

•Require all potential transfer students and a parent/guardian to answer and have notarized a questionnaire which includes, but is not limited to, questions regarding recruiting, tuition assistance, residency and prior contact with Gorman coaches;

•Agree to add to its tuition assistance agreement the line, “Accordingly, I agree to fully cooperate with the school and the NIAA in any investigation that may be brought regarding my son/daughter’s athletic eligibility, including providing a brief affidavit which identifies the source of funds used to pay the tuition of my son/daughter”;

•And would assist the NIAA in conducting any bona fide investigation authorized by an NIAA executive committee upon a specific finding of reasonable suspicion of an NIAA rule violation. The NIAA will require similar assistance from CCSD member schools, particularly in cases involving suspected zone violations or recruiting.

So basically, Bishop Gorman agreed to follow the rules that have already been in place and then if a rule comes into question, the school will cooperate with any inquiry needed to gain clarity.

Wow, how big of Bishop Gorman. That’s not much of a newsflash, it will agree to follow the rules.

The NIAA is basically a club. Member schools pay yearly dues to participate in the club. If Gorman doesn’t want to follow the club’s rules it can be kicked out or choose to leave as far as I’m concerned. Membership is a privilege, not a right.

Per state statute, the NIAA is charged with governing high school sports in Nevada. Given that, it obviously already has the right to run an investigation and ask questions when it has concerns about Gorman.

All Washoe County and Clark County high schools, and every other high school in the state for that matter, have a clearance packet that athletes and their parents must sign before being cleared to compete in athletics. In that packet are questions about eligibility and competition. Is Gorman just now agreeing to ask its students questions every other school already does?

The school is either just now offering to put together a clearance packet that basically everyone else already has or is just now offering to share its paperwork with the state. School officials are either incompetent or playing the rest of us for fools.

There was one key area Gorman said it would address that I must admit would help give the school an aura of transparency, like it was actually trying to play by the rules.

The school said it would agree to inform the NIAA as soon as the school identifies a student that receives more than 50 percent in tuition assistance is participating in a sanctioned sport.

This actually is a step in the right direction because Gaels critics have long said the school recruits and offers scholarships to athletes because of their superior physical talents. I want to know what percentage of athletes receive aid compared to students who are non athletes — and what percentage of each athlete’s $10,000-plus tuition is being covered.

Publicly, the NIAA is putting a positive spin on the recent meeting.

“There were better vibes at the Board meeting than what existed a couple weeks ago,” NIAA Assistant Director Donnie Nelson said. “Both sides, Bishop Gorman and the Clark County School District, got together and communicated with the goal in mind that they each had questions of each other. From our office’s perspective, there was some nice, positive, constructive dialogue.”

However, the most outspoken critics would say none of this really matters. They’d say … “Gorman has always held to the mantra that it’s done nothing wrong so why wouldn’t it offer to be transparent. The school has found ways to side step the rules in the past and will continue to do so.”

I’m actually surprised Kilduff addressed the NIAA’s Board of Control last week and did not hide behind a threat of legal action if the NIAA chooses to make changes that would affect Gorman’s ability to compete for state championships.

Gorman officials have repeatedly said they only wanted to be treated the same as other NIAA member schools. He should be careful what he asks for. All but three of the state’s 4A schools are not allowed to offer financial aid at all and all of those must answer to a school district that could care less about building a brand of national athletic excellence.

I spoke with one former highly respected Washoe County School district athletic administrator last weekend who said ‘Let ‘em play or kick ‘em out. There aren’t any other options.”

He’s 100 percent right. All this posturing is pointless. The NIAA can either choose to let Gorman continue to compete and dominate opponents around the state, or finally admit that the Gaels have outgrown their NIAA membership and move to expel the school from the club.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can

be reached via email at: deckles@dailysparkstribune.com.

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