FRANKLIN — Did the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association “err” or “did we follow [the rule],” in the words of its executive director Bill Gaine, in not awarding Emily Nash the medalist trophy after the Lunenburgh High junior registered the lowest score at the recent Division 3 Central boys’ sectional tournament?
In his estimation, Gaine felt the association did not err in following to the letter the specific language of the MIAA’s Golf Tournament Format for entrants in the individual tournament, which states (in all caps): “Girls playing on a fall boys’ team CANNOT BE ENTERED IN THE BOYS’ FALL INDIVIDUAL TOURNAMENT. THEY CAN ONLY PLAY IN THE BOYS’ TEAM TOURNAMENT.”
Facing a severe backlash that ranged from LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam to Billie Jean King, the MIAA acknowledged the controversial fallout and alleged gender insensitivity from its strict adherence to its golf tournament format by convening a special public meeting of its 23-member Golf Committee Dec. 7.
“All golf administrators followed the voted standard in the format,” emphasized Gaine Tuesday morning, addressing the MIAA Board of Directors at their monthly meeting.
“Now it is our responsibility, to look at, if in fact, the instructions, the format, was relevant, was up to date, was consistent with all standards that we expect of the rule, as well as any Title IX considerations.”
The committee, according to Gaine, will also have the benefit of outside consultants with expertise in dealing with insensitivity with a girl on a boys’ team or a boy on a girls’ team.
Gaine said the discussion was ongoing in what he termed was “an unprecedented situation.”
Playing from the boys’ tees at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge Oct. 24, the 16-year-old Nash shot a 3-over par 75, four strokes lower than Nico Ciolino from the Advanced Math & Science Academy (AMSA) in Marlborough.
Because she was a girl playing in the boys’ indivdual tournament, Nash’s winning individual score only counted toward Lunenberg’s team score.
Ciolino, upon receiving the first-place trophy, offered the hardware to Nash, but she declined.
The Lunenburg boys’ team, however, failed to qualify for the Div. 3 state final held Oct. 31 in Great Barrington. Under the current format, Nash will advance to the girls’ individual state tournament in the spring.
She did not receive any hardware from the MIAA, but was presented a trophy by her high school and accepted an invite from Sorenstam to compete in the golfing legend’s Annika Invitational at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. from Jan. 12-15.
“At the end of the day, we followed [the format], there was a lot of clarity . . . we need to have consistency, but that doesn’t say that the golf committee doesn’t change their mind,” said Richard Pearson, the MIAA’s associate director. “But how we administered this, we did what we had to do, we articulated, we informed the member schools.”
“Where we sit today, it says ‘boys’ because it was a boys’ individual tournament, because there is a girls’ individual tournament in the spring,” Pearson added. “We have to have consideration for our full responsibility [to the association].”
A few other noteworthy items from Wednesday’s two-hour meeting:
■ Addressing the looming departures of schools from their respective conferences in the Atlantic Coast, Bay State and the Old Colony — and the potential negative impact — Pearson reiterated the MIAA’s position (Rule 42.1) that a school cannot depart until two years after the District Athletic Committee has been notified, unless permission has been granted. Dennis-Yarmouth, Falmouth, Nauset and Sandwich are slated to leave the Atlantic Coast League for the Cape & Island, leaving Marshfield on its own.
Barnstable is also headed to the Cape & Islands, leaving Bridgewater-Raynham and Dartmouth as a twosome in the Old Colony. Norwood has been approved to join the Tri-Valley League from the BSC, joining 2017 entrant Dedham. There are clearly decisions ahead for the ACL, Old Colony, and likely, the Big Three.
■ Plymouth North principal Kathleen McSweeney was unanimously voted onto the board, via an at-large appointment, to fill the spot created by the departure of Notre Dame Academy AD Donna Brickely. McSweeney, a North Quincy native who starred athletically at Archbishop Williams and Bridgewater State, will fill the position until her retirement in June. Then the board will vote on an appointment.
■ The MIAA’s net assets for 2016-17 were down $370,000 from the previous year, according to Marshfield superintendent Jeff Granatino, vice president of the finance/personnel committee. Nearly half of that figure was attributed to revenues generated in the early rounds of the tournament now being being returned to the member schools.Craig Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org