Baseball – Jason Groome Ruled Ineligible by NJSIAA, Could Be Out Until May 1
Barnegat senior left-hander and top MLB Draft prospect Jason Groome was ruled ineligible by the NJSIAA Wednesday, first reported by NJ.com.
According to the report, Groome's transfer from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. did not constitute a bona fide address change because his parents did not move with him, and therefore, he is subject to the NJSIAA's transfer requirement that he sit 30 days or half of his team's scheduled games before becoming eligible.
Groome pitched his freshman and sophomore seasons at Barnegat and transferred to IMG in January of his junior year in 2015.
The NJSIAA's ruling means Barnegat will forfeit the two games in which Groome appeared, dropping its record to 1-4. Both Point Pleasant Borough and Central Regional will be awarded victories for those games. Groome's statistics from those games - 29 strikeouts, one walk and one hit allowed in 11 innings - will also be vacated.
Those two starts also include the first no-hitter in the history of the Barnegat program, which will now be wiped off the books.
"We misinterpreted the transfer rule," Barnegat coach Dan McCoy said. "The bottom line is, whether we knew it before or now, not much changes. He's still going to have to sit the 30 days. The unfortunate thing is we have to give up two games, but we're okay with that. We'll deal with that internally."
According to NJSIAA rules, Groome will be eligible on May 1 or in Barnegat's 12th game of the season, which is currently scheduled to be April 27 at Manchester if the weather does not affect the schedule to that point.
Prior to the season McCoy said he check with his administration about Groome's eligibility and was not aware of any issue.
"The spirit of the rule is not intended for this situation," McCoy said. "He was here up until November of his junior year before he visited IMG and then he transferred there for his second semester. The spirit of the rule is not designed for a situation like this."
In an interview with Phil Anastasia of Philly.com, Jeff Randazzo - Groome's advisor - denounced the ruling.
Groome is currently ranked No. 1 in the 2016 draft class by both ESPN and Baseball America. In 2003, Lebron James was ruled ineligible for the remainder of his high school basketball team's season on Feb. 1 of that season for accepting free gifts and was still selected No. 1 in the NBA Draft five months later.
"It's out of his control, and the sad part is, he's being vilified in some places for a mistake that he had nothing to do with," McCoy said. "He wanted to come back home and pitch for his high school. He didn't have any idea about the rule. It wasn't even his mistake."
Groome is likely to miss at two scheduled starts, including this Saturday's Autism Awareness benefit game at Count Basie Park against Red Bank Catholic - the No. 2 team in the Shore Conference Top 10. His other start was scheduled for next Thursday, April 21 at Pinelands. He was tentatively set to come back and pitch on April 25 at Point Boro, but would be pushed back two days if the schedule holds.
As it stands, Groome will be eligible to pitch in the Ocean County Tournament.