Baxter’s Blitz

Isolating private high schools not a good look

scvarsity@sc.rr.comJanuary 24, 2013 

IT SEEMS AS if the South Carolina High School League has had more action the past two weeks than any of the state’s top-ranked basketball teams.

After talking about the bills introduced in the state legislature dealing with the SCHSL, there now are two more items of interest.

Last week, there were two proposals sent to the SCHSL addressing private, charter and magnet schools’ participation in league competition. There are 15 schools fitting that category: Academic Magnet, Bishop England, Brashler Middle College, Calhoun Falls Charter, Charleston Charter, Christ Church Episcopal, Fox Creek, Garrett Tech, Governor’s School, Greenville Tech Charter, Greer Middle College, Military Magnet, Southside Christian, St. Joseph’s, and S.C. School for Deaf and Blind.

One proposal, drafted and signed by members of the Spartanburg County school Districts 1 through 7, asks that these schools — currently members of the SCHSL — be able to compete in the league but have their own separate playoffs and championships in all sports.

Considering that there only 15 schools and not all of them play football, which is the authors’ real concern, it would be ridiculous for the schools to have to participate in a watered down system. And outside of football, two of these 15 schools play lacrosse. Are they really being asked to have a two-team playoff?

The second proposal, which was drafted by representatives of Branchville High, calls for the deletion of the article within the SCHSL constitution allowing for private, charter and magnet schools to be members — basically, a banishment from the SCHSL.

That would leave those schools either in a “no-man’s land” or having to apply for SCISA membership. That would greatly impact SCISA competition, especially with Bishop England. The Bishops’ enrollment is more than 700 students — more than twice the size of the largest SCISA 3A team.

Let’s just call this what it really is — a desperate attempt to cure the frustration of certain 2A and A schools that must face Bishop England and Christ Church Episcopal in the playoffs.

Those two private schools have played in the state championships for their respective classes for the past two seasons and won. The authors of these proposals argue these 15 schools have an “unfair advantage” in that they can offer tuition and scholarships to student athletes, they can draw athletes to their schools because of broader attendance zones, they can control attendance numbers thereby controlling which classification they are in, and that they have other options, such as SCISA.

It’s not ridiculous enough that the SCHSL membership has already watered down the playoffs? Now schools who can’t compete with Christ Church and Bishop England want to water it down even more by kicking out winning teams?

Thankfully, the Executive Committee of the SCHSL shot these proposals down. That doesn’t mean the fight is over, however.

Sources say that the authoring schools will bring these proposals up to the membership in March. Going in with an item shot down at the league office likely will not gain support from the membership, either.

Now we can focus on realignment, where a small contingency of coaches have submitted an alternative proposal to the five-class system the SCHSL was supposed to vote on this week.

They have now put off the vote so that membership can review “alternative” proposal, a three-class system with six divisions. Yes, you read correctly. There is another group of coaches out there who want to give everyone a trophy at the end of the season.

We’ll visit this topic later in the spring.

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