Politics and sports collide once again | NevadaAppeal.com

Politics and sports collide once again

Steve Puterski

A Las Vegas democrat is putting Bishop Gorman on notice.

According to media reports, Assemblyman Harvey Munford has proposed a bill-draft order for the 2015 Legislature to ban Gorman football from the state playoffs.

Merry Christmas.

Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine did not comment about the bill in previous reports, but said the issue surrounding Gorman is nothing new.

The Gaels rolled Reed, 70-28, earlier this month for their sixth straight state championship. Gorman also finished No. 2 in two of Maxpreps’ high school rankings, and they are still in the hunt for the mythical national title from USA Today.

The cry to oust Gorman from, at least competing for football state titles, is at an all-time high. The school has endless resources of which no other in the state can challenge, certainly not public schools.

The NIAA, by the way, operates under Nevada Revised Statutes and receives policy direction from the legislature.

A bill was passed last session to allow all-star games to be played during the school year instead of a summer-only event. So politics and sports colliding is nothing new, but on this scale it is.

The question, though, becomes whether the state legislature should be involved.

There is no easy answer to that question. Battle lines have drawn, but the huddled (public school) masses are no match for the wealthy elite of Gorman.

Politics is a messy game, although the masses may have no other recourse than to actively seek Gorman’s dismissal through state action. The NIAA, meanwhile, is too weak to mount a serious challenge unless the Board of Directors stands tall and vote Gorman out.

It’s the only way, unless the state government beats the NIAA to the punch.

Gorman also uses its religion and private school label to decline public release of financial documents and/or any type of “scholarship” or “financial assistance” for its school and athletes.

It is obvious, though, Gorman wants to be a national power and has done that. Their football and boys basketball teams are hardly challenged in the state and consistently ranked nationally.

They have athletic facilities better than many NCAA Division I schools including UNLV. Their field is immaculate and donation estimations to construct the two facilities are around $30-$50 million.

Deep pockets engulf Gorman, which means they have the financial and political power to fight any such bill to derail the school’s mission of complete dominance.

Recruiting is also a touchy subject with the Gorman faithful. They counter such claims as their kids just want a great education to go along with athletics, work so hard to be great athletes and do not receive any financial support (i.e. scholarships) for athletics.

Anyone who has not attended Gorman in the past knows that is not the case, but now the school doesn’t have to use a whisper campaign to secure athletes.

With the facilities, national rankings, coverage and college recruiting opportunities, Gorman sells itself.

But many still wonder, with good reason, if the Gaels still actively recruit. At least three players (all starters) from this year’s football team transferred from respectable California programs. I’m sure they did it for the academics and not the national coverage and recruiting attention to play college football.

Regardless of the complaints, the Gorman problem is not going away and it’s doubtful the legislature will take action, even though newly elected Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson, a Las Vegas republican, is a “citizen coach” for rival Palo Verde.

Behind close doors this bill probably has bi-partisan support. But money talks in politics and the Gorman alums have truckloads.

The flip side, though, is Gorman made a commitment, albeit down a different path, to its student-athletes. They made the decision to allow their students to become the best and use their school as a springboard to bigger and better opportunities.

The reality, however, is Gorman is staying as a member school of the NIAA unless they decide to pull out. Their money and power will crush any attempt by the NIAA and its other member schools to oust the Gaels.

On second thought, maybe legislative action is the only option left.

Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com.