The NJSIAA issued its final ruling concerning CREATE Charter’s status as a member of the state’s governing body and the news was not good.
The state’s executive committee voted last week to give the school “the death penalty,” meaning that the school cannot offer extracurricular competitive athletics for at least the next two years.
The committee cited several infractions for its decision in laying the wood to CREATE’s beleaguered sports program, but the last two incidents were the final straws.
One involved a student/athlete, a basketball player, from another Jersey City high school, who was already arrested and charged with armed robbery, attending a game as a possible transfer candidate to go to CREATE Charter. The aforementioned student/athlete actually attended a CREATE game against another Hudson County foe and sat on the team’s bench during that contest.
The other incident involved two advertisements that appeared in the local daily newspaper, promoting CREATE’s new football program that was scheduled to begin play this coming fall.
The ads boldly stated that prospective high school students “should go to CREATE and play football right away instead of going to another school and becoming just a number.” The ad was construed as a recruiting tool, which is frowned upon by the NJSIAA.
The NJSIAA also cited CREATE’s alleged use of an ineligible player for the 2007-08 boys’ basketball season, a move that forced CREATE to relinquish the school’s first-ever HCIAA Seglio Division championship and at the time, placed the school on a two-year probation from post-season play in boys’ basketball, a year after the school captured the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I state championship.
Lipski fights it
The ruling angered CREATE Charter superintendent Steve Lipski, who is in his final days as a Jersey City councilman.
“I’m certainly not happy about it,” Lipski said. “We have our attorneys drafting an appeal to the state commissioner of education and pursuing all other remedies. It’s 100 percent unfair and we were disproportionately treated. It was a very harsh penalty, and frankly, we felt it was too severe.”
After the ruling was announced, Lipski said that he sat down and met with the school’s student/athletes and existing coaches.
“I explained where we were at and gave the students the option that if they wanted to transfer to another school, we would let them,” Lipski said.
As part of the penalty, CREATE’s current students can continue to attend the school and then play for the respective high school in the district where they live.
“But we’re more than a sports program,” Lipski said. “Only 10 percent of our student population is made of athletes. I think this is a challenge, but we’re going to do everything to prove that the rules have been applied to us unfairly. We’re committed to stay on, and we have coaches who are committed to stay with us.”
For example, John Paczkowski, who was hired recently to become the school’s first-ever football coach, replacing Bill Sullivan, the former St. Anthony coach who was fired last October for allegedly using an underage player at that school. Paczkowski has agreed to stay on as football coach, despite the NJSIAA ruling.
Paczkowski, a veteran head coach who had a successful stint at Carteret, was brought in when Sullivan’s tenure with CREATE came to an end following the controversial ad’s appearance in the local newspaper.
“The worst case scenario is that we will offer tackle football as an intramural sport,” Lipski said. “We’re going to be lobbying pretty hard to have this ruling rescinded. It’s not good sportsmanship. Once we make a mistake, we make sure we clean it up and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The school has also hired former Dickinson and Marist head football coach and former Dickinson softball coach John Lisa to serve as its full-time athletic coordinator.
However, without having the chance to offer athletics, it could very well be the death knell for the Jersey City charter school. Lipski tends to disagree.
“We’re in the business of education and our whole focus is to keep it working,” Lipski said. “No question, it’s a blow, but like any other heavyweight boxer who gets knocked down, you get off the canvas and keep fighting until the 15th round. Hopefully, we’ll have a belt around our waist when it’s all said and done.”
Lipski is keeping a stiff upper lip, but there’s no question that this is a devastating blow to the school, because prospective students are simply not going to want to go to CREATE if they can’t play sports. It should be very interesting to see how this all plays out…
The Major League Baseball free agent amateur draft was held Tuesday and Wednesday and the lone local player selected through the first 30 rounds was a major surprise.
Former Ferris left-handed pitcher Eric Diaz was taken in the 16th round by the Kansas City Royals. Diaz graduated from Ferris in 2006 and went to college in New Mexico and was playing there when spotted by the Kansas City scouts.
It’s a great story about a local kid who practically flew under the radar and will now get a chance to play professional baseball. We’ll hopefully have more on Diaz next week.
The rest of the draft was slated for Thursday afternoon. We’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if Marist’s ace right-hander Fabian Roman gets the call…
The New Jersey Scholastic Baseball Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic will be held Saturday in West Windsor and five local players were selected to the Northeast team. They are Evan Pimentel of County Prep, Michael Kuzirian of Memorial, Zack Markle of Hoboken, Tom McGuckin of Bayonne and the aforementioned Roman. County Prep head coach Mike Zadroga, Jr. will be among the Northeast’s coaching staff, a nice honor for a solid young head coach. We’ll have more on the local All-Stars next week…
The annual East-West Robeson Football Classic will also take place this weekend in East Orange and there are several Hudson grid standouts on the East squad. We will also have more on that game next week as well…
The great Lynch brothers of Union City and Pound4Pound Promotions have put together another great boxing card for local fight fans for Thursday, June 25 at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen, with first bout slated for 6:30 p.m.
On the card are local fighters Bobby Rooney of Bayonne, Jason Escalera of Union City and Patrick Farrell of Jersey City, all three of whom are crowd favorites because of their fighting styles and abilities. Escalera and Farrell are still undefeated and are considered up-and-coming prospects.
Headlining the card is a light welterweight 10-round fight between tough Mike Arnaoutis and challenger Doel Carrasquillo. The 21-3 Arnaoutis is the former USBA light welterweight champion who had a downright war against Paterson’s boxing hero Kendall Holt in Atlantic City two years ago, one of the best fights that year.
For more information about tickets, contact Pound4Pound at (201) 223-0155 or (866) 924-2050. It should be another great night of local pro boxing. – Jim Hague Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.