Will vote Monday create a superstar high school football conference?
The landscape of high school football in the Garden State could soon change dramatically.
Next week, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association will vote on whether to create a separate football conference for all powerhouse parochial and private high school teams – so they would have to face off against each other every week, instead of beating up on everybody else for most of the season.
Several non-public high schools have traditionally recruited the best athletes in the state to join their programs, giving them a distinct advantage over public high schools that can only draw athletes from within their own districts.
Steve Timko, the executive director of the NJSIAA, says the idea was formulated after careful review over several months and it would put about 40 private schools in their own conference.
He said the idea is to separate high schools where there is closed enrollment – in the public high schools — from private schools with open enrollment, where any youngster from any part of the state can participate.
“The vote on Monday will be interesting,” he said. “It seems like a lot of the North Jersey schools are in support of it, a lot of the South Jersey schools are not in support of it, so we’ll see where Central Jersey fits in.”
Timko says if the proposal is adopted, and this new conference is created, “you could have an A, B, C, D, and E division, the most powerful schools would be in the A division, and they may get five or six games against just A division teams. Then they would probably have to cross over and get 1 or 2, maybe 3 games from the B division.”
Also up for a vote on Monday will be a plan to amend the rules that are in effect when a student athlete transfers to another school.
According to Timko, they’ve seen a number of situations where top student athletes “are jumping from one school to another school, and you get instant championship caliber teams that are in place.”
He said under the current rule, if there’s a legal change of address the student athlete is able to participate immediately and automatically, but the proposed new rule would change things.
“If a varsity athlete (from a non-public school) transfers to another non-public school, that person has to sit 30 days, but is also not eligible for the state tournament. I think would have a definite impact on the development of a championship caliber team," Timko said. “If you transfer from one school to another it should be because of parental moves, you should not be moving from one school to another based on their athletic programs.”
Superintendents, athletic directors and principals from 435 accredited schools all over the Garden State will vote on these issues on Monday morning at a special meeting in Edison.