IT ISN'T LISTED as an official topic for discussion, but you can bet there will be some talk about - there it is again - public school/private school issues at the Charleston Marriott this weekend. The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association conference, set for Saturday through Monday at the Marriott, is expected to draw 50 high school athletic directors from around the state, as well as 25 from middle schools. The public school versus private school topic has been dragged through the court of public opinion ad nauseam in West Virginia over the last few years, and several attempts have been made by Class A public schools to rid their division of private school members, who they claim have an inherent advantage by not drawing students (and especially student-athletes) from specific attendance zones. However, the issue does not appear to be going away and, in fact, is coming to a head in other states. An article published Tuesday in the Charlotte Observer said that the 390 member schools in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association are voting this week on whether to expel parochial non-boarding schools. A three-fourths majority is required to change that group's constitution. Private schools in North Carolina are already under additional requirements, as students who transfer there are ineligible for athletics for one year. But that measure isn't strong enough for some public school officials. Several private schools in that state have won multiple championships in recent years, with Cardinal Gibbons in Raleigh capturing 34 titles since 2005. The Observer article also mentioned that eight state associations around the country have adopted a multiplier rule for private school members since 2009, which multiplies their enrollments by an assigned number to determine their classification, in essence having them play against larger schools. Some of the numbers cited are interesting. In Ohio, private schools make up 16 percent of that association's membership, but won 70 percent of the state titles. Georgia recently expanded from five divisions to six after non-public schools won 26 of 28 state championships (excluding football, wrestling and boys track) since 2008. In Indiana, private schools comprise 14 percent of the membership and won 40 percent of the titles. West Virginia's Secondary School Activities Commission began admitting private schools in the early 1970s, but only recently have the rumblings of unfairness started. Since 2000 in the state's three highest-profile sports - football, boys basketball and girls basketball - private schools have won 33 of 38 titles in Class A. Bill Gillispie, the athletic director at Charleston Catholic, organizes the WVADA event, so he'll be on hand at the Marriott this weekend. Undoubtedly, he'll hear some of the public vs. private parlance. "I'm really the only private school guy who goes,'' Gillispie said. "I'll be able to talk about it. Some of it's misconception, but there are different things that need to be worked out. For small schools, there are a lot of questions about how things work and how things happen.'' Other scheduled highlights of the WVADA conference this weekend include the group's golf tournament Saturday morning at the Big Bend course in Tornado, speakers such as West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck and Greenbrier resort owner Jim Justice and presentations from 20 to 25 vendors/exhibitors.
Hey, if you haven't gotten your tickets to the April 29 Victory Awards Dinner in Parkersburg yet, well, there's no time like the present.
Tickets are available for $20 at many newspapers around the state, including the Gazette sports department at 1001 Virginia St. E in Charleston. You can also call ahead at 304-348-1749.
The deadline for selling tickets is Monday, and just like every year, no tickets will be sold at the door on the day of the event. Checks can be made payable to the West Virginia Sports Writers Association (or WVSWA for short).
Everyone attending the banquet, which honors first-team all-state athletes (football, boys and girls basketball), state championship coaches and major awards winners from the 2011-12 school year, must have a ticket - including those being honored, although their respective schools usually pick up the admission charge for them.
This year's event is set to begin at 4 p.m. at the Dils Center. Two additions will also be made to the state sports Hall of Fame this year in former girls basketball standouts Mary Ostrowski of Parkersburg Catholic and Vicky Bullett of Martinsburg.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.