The demise of the High Tech/County Prep athletic programs and the subsequent fallout from it continues – and the mess surrounding it just gets worse and worse.
It was learned last week that four former High Tech basketball players, who had transferred to Union City High School last September after the athletic programs were eliminated at High Tech, have now transferred back to High Tech so that they can circumvent the 30-day transfer rule.
Now that they are students at High Tech once again, they are eligible to play right away for Union City and don’t have to sit out the mandatory 30 days required by the NJSIAA when a transfer takes place.
Honestly, this news really smells, because there is no way in God’s creation that these four kids knew about this way to get around the transfer rule on their own. They had to have been instructed to do so by some adult.
And if that adult was someone involved with the Union City coaching staff, then that’s just flat out wrong.
Here’s the situation, one that has been reported here since the decision was made in June to officially pull the plug on the athletic programs at the two schools.
The student/athletes at the two schools were told that they could continue to attend the Schools of Technology and play sports for the schools in their home district.
Which meant that if you went to High Tech and lived in North Bergen and played soccer at High Tech, for example, you could continue to attend the school and play soccer at North Bergen.
However, if you decided to leave your respective school and transfer to your home district school, there was the 30-day transfer rule penalty, meaning you were ineligible to play the respective varsity sport until you sat out 30 days from the start of the season.
There was a lot of confusion surrounding the transfers. Some student/athletes claimed that they would be able to play right away at their home district school provided they had a signed waiver from their former school.
But the NJSIAA clearly stated that the rumor of a signed waiver was incorrect information and that the students had to sit out the 30 days if they transferred.
All of this has been reported here several times since the Schools of Technology decided to end the athletic programs at the two schools.
There has been major confusion over the eligibility of those students who transferred. Plain and simple, if they left their respective Schools of Technology, they have to sit. There were no ways around it whatsoever.
Until now. Until the people in Union City have found a major loophole and sent these four boys’ basketball players back to High Tech to be enrolled there.
And frankly, it’s way wrong. Both schools should be ashamed, because this was definitely the crafty work of adults, not the kids themselves. They had to receive guidance to do so.
The people in Union City – coaches, administrators, you name it – should be embarrassed for creating this loophole in order to let these four players crawl right through.
Also, the powers-that-be at the Schools of Technology should be ashamed of themselves for allowing these kids to come back. It’s known that at least one of the four is someone who has run afoul of the law in the past. Others were previously enrolled in the KAS Prep program for troubled students while being eligible to play for High Tech last season.
That idea was always a bit hypocritical in this corner’s opinion. High Tech staked its reputation on being a school of higher learning with many of its top students going on to the nation’s best colleges, but yet, the basketball team featured troubled kids who didn’t even attend regular classes and didn’t have to worry about getting sufficient grades. That was about as hypocritical as it comes. You can’t have one with the other.
As part of the KAS Prep program, the students are not graded. They are just monitored long enough, with the ultimate goal being having the student sent back to mainstream classes in their respective home districts.
Now, let’s take this one specific case as a prime example.
Did this student get totally rehabilitated from his past indiscretions simply by spending four months at Union City High School? So much so that he’s able to go back to the KAS Prep program and play right away for Union City?
Please, that’s just a ludicrous idea.
No, this is a case of trying to win at all costs. This is a case of trying to form a winning basketball program without seeing the major ramifications that will come from this maneuver.
Because now we are going to see other student/athletes who left the Schools of Technology for their home districts in September, not knowing a thing about the NJSIAA’s transfer rule and how it definitely affected them, who will now want to do the same thing as the Union City/High Tech quartet.
There will be others who will see how the Union City kids circumvented the transfer rule and try to do the same thing themselves. That’s a guarantee. Permission to allow these four kids to get away with this will lead to the floodgates being opened and kids all over the county going to request transfer forms to head back to either High Tech or County Prep.
And the confusion and the mess will just get worse.
Now, when the politicians decided to end the funding for the athletic programs at the Schools of Technology last March, allegedly all because one student/athlete from North Bergen was able to get into High Tech without going through the proper educational channels, did they ever dream it would lead to this incredible chaos?
The people at the NJSIAA, people like associate directors Bob Baly and Larry White, are absolutely going to love reading this column.
They were certain that the transfers from the Schools of Technology would be handled in a case-by-case fashion, that there really wouldn’t be much controversy at all regarding the rules. After all, the 30-day transfer rule has been in place for ages and a rule is a rule is a rule, right?
Well, it’s a rule all right, until some shifty adult can devise a way to get around the rule.
Let’s see what transpires next. You can rest assured that there are going to be several, maybe even as many as 25-to-50 complaints being dropped on the desk of the NJSIAA’s rules committee regarding this insane situation.
And every elected official in the county just believed it would be easier to pull the plug on the whole shebang and everything would simply go away.
Well, it hasn’t been that easy at all – and after the Union City quartet have flown the coop and gone back to High Tech, it’s about to get far worse. Stay tuned.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.