Published: Apr 21, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Oct 29, 2012 06:11 PM
In the News & Observers weekly ranking of area high school teams, Cardinal Gibbons is in the top 10 of every sport except softball.
The Crusaders field the Triangles No. 1 team in boys lacrosse, No. 3 in girls lacrosse, No. 6 in baseball and No. 8 in girls soccer.
Last fall, they won another Carolina-6 Conference title in football, another in volleyball and another in boys soccer. They went on to win their second straight 3A NCHSAA state championship in soccer with a 3-1 victory over Charlotte Catholic High School in the tournament final.
All that may be too much of a good thing for Cardinal Gibbons.
N.C. High School Athletic Association member schools are voting on whether Cardinal Gibbons and other parochial schools can stay in the organization.
Chapel Hill and Orange have been in the same 3A conference with Cardinal Gibbons since the NCHSAAs last realignment. But local coaches have not been the source of the push to reconsider parochial membership.
The vote, according to the News & Observer, comes at the request of western schools: Salisbury, West Rowan, East Rowan, South Rowan, North Rowan and China Grove Carson. The NCHSAA constitution requires a membership vote if at least six schools request an item be placed on a ballot.
Ballots are due at the NCHSAAs Chapel Hill offices by Tuesday, when the organization will decide the status of Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic and Kernersvilles Bishop McGuinness.
Since 2005, Gibbons has won 34 NCHSAA state championships; Charlotte Catholic has won 20; and McGuinness has won nine, including the last seven 2A girls basketball titles.
At issue is the fact that parochial schools within the NCHSAA can draw students from outside their respective school districts, even from outside their counties. For example, some Cardinal Gibbons players come from Chapel Hill.
Our students come from a specific area. Theirs do not," says Salisbury High athletic director Joe Pinyin. "Their players can come from anywhere."
Salisbury administrators specifically complained that parochial schools, in addition to unrestricted boundaries, can select only the students they want and can appeal eligibility requirements about transfers to the NCHSAA.
Unstated in the letter, a supposition also exists that Gibbons and others give their student-athletes a high school version of a scholarship.
Some Cardinal Gibbons athletes indeed have received financial assistance in the past, but the school insists that aid has been based strictly on need and refutes that it constitutes athletic scholarships.
Whenever we select a student for an academic scholarship, we make it very clear that they will not be eligible for athletic participation, Jason Curtis, the Gibbons principal, told the News & Observer last week. But assistance has been given on a need-basis by the parish. Weve always abided by the NCHSAA requirements that there be no preferential treatment of athletes."
Nonetheless, that has drawn the scrutiny of the NCHSAA.
To me, it is very clear, NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield told the N&O. If you receive financial aid, you are ineligible for athletics. The school may be in violation."
Even if the NCHSAA administration were to state clearly it found no wrong-doing in the parochial schools aid process, the whole question comes at a poor time for Gibbons, et al. And time is a factor.
No one approached us to discuss any problems or concerns," says Dr. Michael Fedewa, the superintendent of the diocese of Raleigh. "Instead, very suddenly the membership is voting on whether we are to be kicked out of the association.