High schools

MIAA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Transfer waiver process remains thorny issue for MIAA

FRANKLIN — The fast-approaching snow and sleet did not prevent the MIAA’s Board of Directors from diving into their monthly meeting Wednesday morning (postponed from Jan. 17 because of yes, a snowstorm), leading off with a 50-minute executive session to discuss student eligibility, the transfer waiver process, and ongoing litigation for the association.

There is no issue that is more of a thorn to the collective MIAA than litigation. And the biggest headache, acknowledged executive director Bill Gaine after the two-plus hour session, “is parents taking us to court . . . not the schools.”

Just four of the 23 board members were seated in the Kinney/Neal room — Arlington Catholic AD Dan Shine, Dartmouth AD Jeff Caron, board president Marilyn Slattery (Malden), and vice-president Jeff Granatino (Marshfield), in addition to Gaine — but another 14 listened in via conference call.

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The session was a follow-up to a spirited discussion at the December meeting featuring Cohasset boys’ basketball coach Bo Ruggiero, past president of the state basketball coaches’ association, and Dick Baker, who oversees the MIAA’s eligibility/waiver process.

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Ruggiero argued that students were circumventing the waiver process to compete in athletics under the guise of “school choice.” The issue, he said, will only get worse. Baker would like to see the process amended.

Currently, a transfer student-athlete only gains immediate eligibility if the principal of the “sending” school signs off on the process (Form 200).

In December, Peabody High did not sign off on a pair of transfers, Chibuikem Onwuogu and Sammy Batista, who wanted to play basketball at St. Mary’s of Lynn. Peabody alleged there was recruitment. Onwuogo got a court-ordered injunction to become eligible this season.

“Part of our internal discussion,” said Gaine, “is the fruitfulness of that mechanism [Form 200, et al], because there is evidence of breakdown, and what happens between [two schools].”

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The board appointed a subcommittee to delve into the issue. The topic will also be on the agenda at the MIAA’s annual convention this spring.

“We need to sensitize the membership about their individual and collective responsibilities,” said Gaine. “We have to stand tall.”

Two of other items of note:

 The national federation (NFHS) recently formed a partnership with eSports and is eyeing a fall launch for state associations that have interest. A training symposium is scheduled for later this month in Atlanta. “There is an extraordinary amount of young people involved in this and we will explore it,” said Gaine.

 The board unanimously approved the membership of Roxbury Prep, which opened its doors in the fall of 2015 and has an enrollment of 335 students in grades 9-11. The school will field a football program in the fall.

Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com