A level playing field. That's all the 4A schools in Nevada want. Whether it ever comes to fruition is anybody's guess.
It's all about the Bishop Gorman Gaels, who have made state championship games their private playground in recent years. Gorman has won four of the last five football titles, the last six baseball titles and three of the last four basketball titles.
Because of public outcry in Northern and Southern Nevada, NIAA executive director Eddie Bonine recently sent a memo to (and met with) Bishop Gorman asking that the school consider becoming an associate member, meaning it could play in the public school leagues but not play for a state championship.
"If Bishop Gorman is not willing to consider this membership proposal or does not have an acceptable alternative, it appears the separation of private and public schools in the postseason may become the only method to resolve these issues/concerns." Bonine said in a letter to John Kilduff, Bishop Gorman president.
There aren't associate memberships in the NIAA, at least not right now, as Rite of Passage's Lawrence Howell candidly pointed out when he took to the podium at Tuesday's Board of Control meeting at the Peppermill Hotel & Casino in Reno.
"It's against the rules," ROP's Lawrence Howell said. "The NIAA doesn't have associate memberships."
Howell went on to say that trying to have separate public school and private school championships isn't feasible. He said that the other, smaller private schools are comfortable in their leagues, and there is no public outcry for their removal.
Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Associate membership was on Tuesday's agenda, but it wasn't being discussed until after the "Bishop Gorman situation" was talked about.
There are only three private 4A schools in the state - Bishop Manogue, Gorman and Faith Lutheran. That's certainly not enough to have a "true" private school state championship.
Right now, the NIAA can only suggest, and not force, Gorman into becoming an associate member if the NIAA votes to allow associate members. The Board of Control doesn't have the power to make it happen right now, and Bishop Gorman isn't showing any signs of wanting to leave the NIAA.
"We don't seek national recognition," Kilduff said during Tuesday's meeting. "State championships are what we are striving for. If we get national recognition, we wouldn't turn that down."
Kilduff pointed out that Clark County has open enrollment and magnet schools, and he believes that will help close the gap with Gorman.
"I would like the Vegas schools to get better so we would have more competition," Kilduff said.
I believe him when he says he wants better games than the 96-51 basketball title win over Hug and the 73-28 win over Reed in football. Who wouldn't?
Kilduff said Gorman's success is cyclical. Really?
I've been following sports for more than 30 years, and when you draw from such a big area like Gorman does, things aren't cyclical. The Gaels will continue to win, but maybe in a not-so-dominant fashion. Private schools like Gorman don't rebuild, they just re-load. Besides having a ton of good athletes, Gorman also has some great facilities, and trust me, student-athletes like to play on good fields.
Carolyn Edwards, a NIAA board member and a Clark County Board of Trustee member, said that "open enrollment hasn't done anything to level the playing field."
Did Edwards think it was going to happen overnight? It takes time, and a lot of parents aren't just going to let their kids go wherever they want, especially if the student-athlete isn't old enough to drive. Some parents don't have time to cart their kids across Vegas to attend a different school. It will take time, but let's face it, kids want to be part of a winning program. In my opinion, open enrollment is only going to help the rich get richer.
When De La Salle came into existence, nobody complained about the fact they had students enrolled from all over the area. As soon as the Spartans started having some success, especially in football, the public outcry was off the charts.
I see the same situation with Gorman. When you look at it closer, though, they are dominant in just three sports - football, basketball and baseball. Gorman doesn't dominate in other sports.
Would Gorman accept a proposal to become an associate member in the three major sports?
Kilduff said it would be too early to comment when asked if he'd consider a proposal like that from the committee which was formed Tuesday to find an equitable solution to the "Gorman situation."