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Before I get to thoughts on this new NJSIAA proposal to strengthen the transfer rule and separate the publics and non-publics in football, just a reminder to come out and support the top Shore Conference basketball seniors in tonight's SBCA Senior All-Star Games at 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. at Wall. The boys game will also be live on the radio on 1160/1310 a.m.

Now, on to these recommendations released yesterday by a special NJSIAA committee. They are trying to address two of the biggest complaints about the New Jersey scholastic sports landscape - the domination of the non-public football schools and the rampant transferring. Also, just remember that for right now these are just proposals, not anything concrete. Given the history of NJSIAA membership continuously voting down logical proposals, you never know if this will ever become reality.

The proposal to separate the non-publics in football into their own 37-team section with six divisions is an interesting one. Obviously, this is all emanating from the North Jersey public programs tired of getting their brains beat in by Don Bosco Prep, St. Joseph's-Montvale, St. Peter's Prep, etc. The Big North Conference athletic directors even recently voted to allow four public programs to refuse to play those schools, forcing a scheduling scramble for the non-public programs.

I've certainly heard the grumbling from local coaches about having to deal mainly with Red Bank Catholic and now St. John Vianney, but it hasn't reached the epidemic proportions of up north. I think if there is an issue, it should be worked out on the conference level, not the statewide level. If Shore Conference public teams have a problem with playing RBC, SJV or whoever, let them work that out among the Shore Conference executive committee. I think dividing the whole state is a little drastic at this point.

The Shore Conference non-publics are not going to like this, I would assume. It increases their travel expenses and removes natural rivalries in favor of non-existent ones. I don't think that would be a problem for Red Bank Catholic because people are still going to flock to a game if they play big-name teams like Don Bosco, Bergen Catholic, etc., and same probably goes for a rising St. John Vianney team.

Under a new NJSIAA proposal, Red Bank Catholic and the rest of the non-public football teams from the Shore would be separated into a non-public league away from the public programs. (Photo by Bill Normile)

However, anyone up for Pingry at Donovan Catholic? Didn't think so. Same goes for Mater Dei Prep, depending on the outcome of its fund-raising campaign to save the school, which is very close to the $1 million needed to keeping it open.

The local non-publics will argue that the change will hurt their revenue because they will have crickets chirping at some games against opponents no one locally cares or knows about instead of the usual big crowd they might have gotten from a game with a local public team. There is a provision in there that allows them to still schedule public teams if the public teams agree, so if Jackson Memorial and Manalapan still want to play RBC, they can do that.

I could see this getting passed because of two things: 1. The public schools don't care about the problems of the non-public schools. 2. There are way more public schools in the NJSIAA than non-public, so if they gang up on them in the voting, it passes, although probably not without some lawyers getting involved.

A system like this would probably create the haves and the have-nots. The perennial parochial juggernauts would be fine, but the more struggling non-public schools would probably take beatings week after week.

A break like this could also make the non-public league seem like the big time and the local public group look like the JV league, for what that's worth. This is also the tip of the iceberg because once this happens in football, you can bet that all the public schools tired of getting rung up by St. Anthony, Roselle Catholic, CBA and others in basketball will be all for a break, and same with those in wrestling, where Bergen Catholic rules the state. This would essentially put the Shore Conference non-publics back into the Stone Age of the 1960s and 70s before they sued to become members of the conference.

As for the transfer rule, the proposal is that any varsity athlete transferring in any situation other than public school to public school, and that doesn't include tuition or choice public schools, would have to automatically sit 30 days with no appeal and would not be able to participate in the state tournament for his or her new team. That means putting a stop to not only the non-publics snapping up transfers, but also the Bound Brook wrestling situation and others involving tuition and choice public schools that are essentially non-publics masquerading as publics at this point.

I am in favor of this rule, although I'm sure some family with a lawyer will challenge it. I like the denial of an appeal because that removes the loophole where a lawyer gets involved, the NJSIAA backs down and the rule is toothless. Something has got to stop all these players bouncing around teams. I feel like we have to have a "transactions" section on our site every summer.

Plus, the state tournament thing is huge. It's essentially saying, go ahead and build your super team with transfers, but none of them are going to help you win a state championship until at least next season. That would also cut way down on the number of kids who jump ship the summer before their senior year. At least let's just cut the blatant recruiting to eighth-graders rather than established stars on other teams.

As far as the timetable, the football change wouldn't come up for an official vote until December and then would most likely be implemented in the 2016 season. The transfer change could be enacted as soon as the fall for the 2015-16 season, but that's if it gets voted through and withstands the inevitable challenges.

I give the NJSIAA credit for this. People always knock them, but they keep trying to reform things. It's the stubborn and wrong NJSIAA membership (i.e., the athletic directors and school administrators) who keep voting all these proposals down so that nothing ever changes. Hopefully something concrete comes out of all this rather than the usual "sounds good on paper, will never pass in reality" hot air.


Tim Fosque is now officially the new head coach at Asbury Park, as the former Blue Bishops' assistant has ascended to the top spot. He will try to bring stability to a program that is on its fourth head coach in four years and trying to return to the top of the heap in Central Jersey Group I. Fosque was part of the recent championship years for Asbury Park, so he's seen what it takes to be a winning team as he looks to get the Blue Bishops back on track after a 2-8 season.

Also, former Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava is on the Board of Education agenda tonight to be approved as the new head coach at Holmdel, filling the last vacancy among Shore Conference teams. That's a great hire for Holmdel, as LaCava built Colts Neck into a team that won nine games in 2012 and then a school-record 10 games, including the program's only state final appearance, in 2013 before he decided to step down.

Former Colts Neck coach Greg LaCava is up for Board of Education approval as the new Holmdel football coach. (Photo by Cliff Lavelle)

Just like Asbury Park, the Hornets are looking for stability, as LaCava is Holmdel's third head coach in three years after Jay Graham stepped down after one season this past fall. With a former head football coach in Rumson's Shane Fallon taking over as athletic director at Holmdel in July, plus LaCava in the fold, there certainly seems to be an emphasis on building a football program that has had little tangible success with only five division titles in its history and one state final appearance in six state playoff berths.


Yes, the boys lacrosse season is already upon us. Bob Badders has started his in-depth divisional previews with a look at Class A North. Also, here's the opening day schedule/scoreboard, and we would like to thank Gloria Nilson and Co. Real Estate for coming aboard as a sponsor to help us bring you the best lacrosse coverage.

More on Wednesday: 

  • Former Barnegat star left-hander Jason Groome, who transferred to IMG Academy in Florida during the offseason, is ranked as the No. 4 junior prospect in the country. With a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, he threw a one-hitter with 19 strikeouts and no walks in his first game for IMG. It's a bummer he left the Shore. It would've been a lot of fun to see the circus of scouts showing up to watch the Vanderbilt recruit, who is on pace to be a first-round MLB draft pick in 2016.
  • Delaware righty Ron Marinaccio, a former Toms River North star, has earned multiple weekly accolades for his performance recently against Hofstra.
  • The most popular throwback jersey bought in New Jersey is...
  • How did three kids from the suburbs of Chicago run away to join ISIS?

On tap for tonight: The boys and girls Shore Basketball Coaches Association Senior All-Star Games are at Wall at 6 p.m. (girls) and 7:45 p.m. (boys). We will be broadcasting the boys game live on the radio on 1160/1310 a.m. We're unable to broadcast the girls game because of a conflict with a Lakewood BlueClaws broadcast.

I'll end with Groome throwing gas at a Perfect Game event earlier this month, and former RBC star Quenton Nelson (#56) banging heads in spring practice as he competes for a starting offensive line spot at Notre Dame.

Trench warfare from Irish Illustrated on Vimeo.