Reader Forum: What do you think of the WPIAL's ruling?
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We asked you to tell us why you agree or disagree with the ruling by the WPIAL that Rob Gronkowski, a top-ranked football player from Buffalo, is ineligible to play at Woodland Hills High School. Read story
Here is what you had to say ...
So the WPIAL is allowing Rob Gronkowski to play basketball at this new school but will not let him play football?? It is a fact that Mr. Gronkowski owns or operates a number of G&G Fitness stores in the area of Pittsburgh which ought to be more than enough evidence to justify that their move was motivated by more than just playing football. He lives in the district, he will be attending classes, he will be apart of the high school experience! If he decided to join the school play, would the PIAA have to reconsider because then he may have made the move to be apart of their acting program and could have been recruited for it!!? Give me a break guys!
I am a prime example to prove that what the WPIAL is doing is a mistake. In my junior year I transferred schools to live with my brother in a different district because I was getting poor grades in the school that I was in. I wanted to attend a school with block scheduling because I needed the extra time in those long classes to grasp a lot of the material. This was even proven through a psychiatrist. But that's not how the PIAA who seems to always make decision without knowing much background on the situation saw it.
I was ranked one of the top point guards in the tri-state area and when I made the move to the new school without ever meeting the coach prior to my decision, the PIAA raised controversy. They decided in taking away part of my high school experience even though I did not have the intentions of doing so just to play for the basketball team, and I was averaging 19 points a game as a sophomore with D-1 attention just like this kid Rob. The committee never met me as a student, never had a conversation with me, and basically voted against me I guess because I was going to dominate their guards and team. Of course the WPIAL committee wont vote for Rob, because it is made up of athletic directors and decision makers from schools within the league. To make a long story short, I got an apology from 2 members of the committee once they got to know me, I stuck it out missing my junior year which made headlines and TV news, obtained a 3.6 gpa average from a 2.1 at my last school and took the loss of something I love for absolutely no reason.
I disagree 100% with the WPIAL ruling on holding Rob Gronkowski back from playing for the school, and for the kids sake I hope that the PIAA will do the right thing and let Rob enjoy his final year as a high school student.
-- David L., Boca Raton, Florida
Absolutely ridiculous!!!!! How can they let one kid play and not another? If anything, the kid playing for Central Catholic should have been ineligible to play. He is not living with his parents. The young man trying to play for Woodland Hills is living here with his father and his father has business ties to Pittsburgh. Catholic schools take the biggest advantage of recruiting students, and just because of the religious education it?s OK? The WPIAL just looks the other way; maybe they were on the jury for the O.J. Simpson case also?
-- Tim, Beaver Falls
I don't agree with transferring for athletic purposes but it happens and I don't feel the WPIAL has a right to hold a kid out that is a life changing ruling. They are possibly taking a bright future away from a kid based on their own opinions. If a parent moves their own child for whatever reason then they have a lot more rights as to where they go to school then an organization has to say whether he / she can play sports. You can't tell me 90 % of the student athletes that play at any Catholic School in the state doesn't go to that school for athletic purposes over religious reasons. I would like to ask this "governing" body who are you to ruin a kid's future based on what you think is right. If this kid does not play this season the almighty WPIAL should do a hearing on every single kid that plays for a Catholic school.
-- Jason Kundick
I don't understand what the big deal is. I moved out of the city to a suburb (I won't mention where for fear that he might be kicked out!) so that my son would get a better education and have a chance to play sports in leagues that are considered "the best" in the area. What's wrong with that? Why shouldn't we want what's best for our kids!! Besides, Gronkowski's father's candid reason for moving to the area was because of his businesses. His son's athletics was secondary.
Jen Steberger, Pittsburgh
This situation is a prime example of the professional-ization of youth sports. Yes, high school football is very important to this society. The lure of the "Friday Night Lights" brings out the excitement and expectation in all of us. But, should high school football be about entertainment or education? It should first, be about education. The needs of those kids on the field should be first, not the needs of the parents in the stands. That being said, I don't think education is the issue in this case. I understand that the PIAA wants to eliminate out of town recruiting of high school players, but when someone chooses to move, that should be their decision. In the bigger picture, no one would object if a family wants to move to another school district so their children can get a better education. Nor, would anyone object if the parents of a clarinet player moved so as to be in a better band program. But, football is too important. It has more value in our society than music or education, therefore, it follows that society feels it needs to be regulated. This is a discriminatory ruling that hurts the athlete's ability to improve himself.
-- Donald W. Albertson Note: The writer is author of "Catch a Rising Star: The Adult Game of Youth Sports"
If nothing else, the transparent athletic motives displayed in this case are a fantastic publicity stunt. Even if this ?student athlete? is not able to play at Woodland Hills, more major colleges will now check out his football prowess.
-- Dann Glott, Beaver
I strongly agree with the recent ruling to not allow Rob Gronkowski to play at Woodland Hills this coming football season. His father may have plenty of businesses in the greater Pittsburgh area, but it seems like the real reason was clearly to advance his son?s football opportunities. It is also a travesty that the Sunseri boy is allowed to play at Central Catholic this season. The WPIAL could do itself a big service and put all of the Catholic schools in the same conference. By doing so, they can continue their recruiting wars on an ongoing basis and play against other schools who actively recruit players for athletic intent.
-- David K. Scott, Bethel Park
I moved to the Pittsburgh area just two years ago from the West Coast. I have two kids. The first thing I looked at for my kids was the quality of the education that they would receive. That education criteria is met by a combination of regular classroom study as well as extra-curricular activities. I am sure that the last thing this family thought about was whether or not the WPIAL would allow the son to play. The fact that Mr. Gronkowski owns or operates a number of G&G Fitness stores in the area of Pittsburgh ought to be more than enough evidence to justify that their move was motivated by more than just playing football for a better team.
If the family moved here for ONLY the purpose of playing ball for Woodland Hills then, alright, maybe that is an issue. But for Pete's sake, give the law some room for interpretation here. It seems clear that the kid was not actually recruited to play by Woodland Hills, just that his family looked at where their best situation would be and decided on that school district.
Hopefully the PIAA will do the right thing and let this kid play.
-- James Fraasch
How about a simple rule.
If the athlete and his/her family [with father and/or mother + any siblings] PHYSICALLY changes residents from one school district to another [house with a deed or apartment with a rental agreement], they are IMMEDIATELY Eligible. Otherwise, any athlete who changes school districts is INELIGIBLE for a period of one year for transferring AFTER entering the 9th Grade.
High school sports programs should benefit from programs of development and NOT for programs of recruitment or who have a better program (This is where Athletic Intent is evident). This would level the playing field for ALL, private, public or parochial schools.
If a player's family moves to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or anywhere else, he/she would be eligible to choose where they can attend. If they move in with uncles, friends, or grandmothers, it does not constitute family of course unless there is legal guardianship, which should be for a significant period of time or unless of course there is a catastrophic situation including death or divorce.
As it stands now the governing body is the schools and its members, who have a conflict of interest and have NO independence. Why not send it to an independent arbitrator for the 'Right of Appeal' and 'Due Process'. The System is bad and can be fixed with a good rule or a better process.
In both the Rob Gronkowski and Tino Sunseri cases, both players would be INELIGIBLE!
Jeff Mauro, Murrysville
I disagree with the Gronkowski ruling. The WPIAL and the PIAA are the ones creating the controversy. Why? If they didn't have rules to enforce, how would they justify their big salaries? We, the taxpayers, end up paying one way or another for the salaries of the WPIAL and PIAA administrators, and their lawyers, and the expenses involved for these hearings.
There is no way that transferring for athletic intent can ever be enforced fairly. The articles in the Post-Gazette clearly identify that the athletic intent rules are enforced in a very random manner.
Read the following from one of the PG's articles:
"We need school principals to enforce the intent of the transfer rule more," O'Malley said. "They have to really examine if that kid is coming to my school and attempting to circumvent the rule for athletic purposes."
Pat Ratesic is a retired school principal and former president of the WPIAL. When he was principal at McKeesport and Penn-Trafford, Ratesic made a few transfer students ineligible for a year. Principals can make such a ruling.
"But there are too many principals out there who just OK transfers just because they don't want to get involved," Ratesic said. "I made some kids ineligible because I knew they were transferring for athletic intent. I didn't believe their stories.
"It's pretty hard to prove athletic intent, but parents will just flat-out lie with their kids sitting right there."
The majority of cases where the student has been ruled ineligible are because of what has been quoted in the newspapers. The Gronkowski case and the Molly Rottman/April Austin cases are good examples where a quote in a newspaper article resulted in a hearing. Most cases where there is athletic intent never reach the WPIAL. Who has heard about a top soccer and basketball player in the WPIAL who transferred from a school with really bad soccer and basketball teams to a school with top programs? The case never made the newspaper and there was never a hearing. It was less a case of athletic intent than the Austin/Rottman case. The person involved had already participated on the varsity teams as compared to Austin who had yet to make a HS decision. Is anything gained by handpicking a few cases and hurting a few kids while this goes on everyday? Some people complain about sportsmanship and the idea the high school sports is about one community competing against another. But look at the other side. Many kids love sports and want to compete in a very competitive environment. Instead they find themselves stuck in a mediocre program and put in a position where they must be careful of being quoted in the newspaper and must lie about their reason
for transferring if a hearing takes place.
-- Ken, Connellsville, PA
Why does anyone even care if this kid transferred to play football or if Central Catholic gets kids outside of the area. If he moved here because of the education no one would care, or even notice. What is the difference? He lives in the school district and will be attending classes. It makes sense for him to play at a school where he will get noticed more and have the opportunity to play for a big time college. It also gets old to hear the whiners talk about Central Catholic. Who cares if they are able to put together a good sports program. It is a private school and they are following the rules. No one complains when students travel to go to the school for academic or religous purposes.
Give me a break! I think there are more important issues to worry about and debate. It is only high school sports.
-- Patrick Fiore, Coatesville
Good thing the WPIAL doesn't have anything to do with Evgeni Malkin's transfer.
-- Rich Strayer, Arlington, VA (formerly of Upper St. Clair)
Sure, Gronkowski's dad shouldn't have said what he did. But if anyone else is contemplating relocating for their career, don't you think the parents and the kids look at the schools? Which ones have a great music program, who has a good band director, where are taxes the lowest, which one has a good art program, and so on...
I don't see any difference in what Gronkowski did and what thousands of American's do every day when choosing where to relocate. Athletics just gets the brunt of it...it's unfortunate too since football is a MAJOR source of income for many schools in the WPIAL.
-- Brian Duncan, Pitcairn
I think they should be allowed to play. If your family is willing to up and move to give you a better shot in athletics Go For It. It is not that often that a youth is talented enough to be in that situation. Normally all you hear about is the younger people who shot someone, or did drugs, or raped someone. Why not applaud the ones down the straight and narrow, who can achieve.
-- Cathy Lang Opiela
My opinion is that it isn't good to transfer to a school for athletic reasons cause it creates an unfair playing field for schools that don't participate in that tactic. Clearly the kid transferred to Woodland Hills to play against better competition, but why is it ok for Central Catholic to bring in a QB from North Carolina THAT LIVES WITH HIS AUNT AND UNCLE and he immediately gets ruled eligible with a private hearing? I'm not advocating the kid from Woodland Hills but Central Catholic has an unfair advantage with all the stunts they pull. Upper St Clair should be able to go into Washington Pa and steal a few kids and go to Mt Lebo and Bethel and steal a few kids etc. A precedent was set when they ok'd the Sunseri kid for Central Catholic then they totally went against it with the kid from Woodland Hills. The real reason is because Woodland Hills is a school with this TE that would beat Central Catholic. If Gronkowski would have transferred to Butler or Hempfield nobody would have said a word. So the WPIAL got what they wanted a Central Catholic WPIAL and PIAA title. Central Catholic should go play a national schedule against teams that are allowed to recruit just like they are.
-- Norman Yackolzski
This all is crazy.wouldn't it be nice if people cared this much about academics (which are declining in the State) rather than a few wins or touchdowns on a Friday night that will not be remembered by most within a few months?? I would bet there has never been an "investigation" into whether a tube player has transferred schools only to be part of a better marching band, has there??? It's ridiculous that grown people act this way and put that much effort and attention into not allowing a young kid to participate in after school activities. So what if the kid transferred for athletic reasons, does it really matter??? Why not investigate into why the math teacher or English teacher is not doing his or her job??? Isn't the WPIAL like most conferences also an academic conference??? Just let it go and worry about something that actually matters.
-- Matthew A. Ross
Well, what do you expect? Do you think the WPIAL would let another School gain an upper hand by allowing a player to transfer into the WPIAL in the same section with their beloved Central Catholic?? Of course they won't!
A simple example:
A recent transferee wants to play at the same school as his father, isn't that nice! Is this a big problem -- NO, not to the WPIAL; But his Father lives and works in North Carolina; Is this a big problem -- NO, again not to the WPIAL, just let him come and live with his Uncle! However, if another transferee wants to do basically do the same thing but he is going to live with his Father who owns businesses in the greater Pittsburgh and his Father states that he wants his son to play at a "higher Level". Big problem -- YES for the WPIAL! (He should have picked a conferenc that did not include Central Catholic)
I'm totally confused! Is it OK in the WPIAL's eyes for the student to say he wants to play at a higher level and they say fine, but anther's Father says the same thing and they reject this student/athletic.
I think that all WPIAL hearings should be open to the public. This way anyone that is interested can hear for themselves.
-- Don Eakin, North Braddock
In hearing that the ruling of ineligibility came down from the WPIAL of Rob Gronkowski, I have to honestly wonder about the reasoning of the decision when precedent was seemingly made in the Tino Sunseri case.
This is not a recruiting issue and should not be compared to Central Catholic. Woodland Hills did not recruit this kid, he came here on his parents decision, along with his own. This is about the decision making of the WPIAL. Why can't the WPIAL just get rid of the clause about living with a guardian. In cases where the young person has no parents, that could be looked at in a whole different category. There should be be two different types of rulings.
If the young man transferring from another school is moving with his parents to another district for personal reasons, whether it is career motivated or for a better oppurtunity, then they should be allowed to play, period, end of story. It is the parents decision to move into a certain district, and they should have that freedom. If Gronkowski's dad owns 5 different stores in the Western PA area, why cant they have the freedom to move wherever they please and be allowed to play football. Just because Woodland Hills has a good football program this has come under scrutiny? If this kid moved into a lesser known football district, would this be investigated by the WPIAL. I highly doubt it.
Although I dont know all the facts, the Tino Sunseri transfer seems much more questionable. His parents aren't even living in Western PA!
At least there was a business and personal reason in this case.
-- D. Sebelia, McKeesport
I suppose I should start by mentioning that I am a grad of Woodland Hills, so I suppose I can't say I'm 100% unbiased.
That said, it is a fundamentally ridiculous and flawed system that holds Central Catholic to one set of standards (in the Sunseri case) while other schools get held to another. And the people who say "well the dad should've kept his mouth shut" miss the two-fold point: 1) you're advocating a system that basically rewards lying (come on, playing football at a top program was part of BOTH families' decisions), and 2) when did it become necessary for parents to hire a press agent, to make sure they say the right things so their kids don't get in trouble?
More fundamentally, every parent wants to look out for their kid and attempt to nurture whatever gifts they have. If he had picked his school district based on academic reputation or theater program or something, no one would care. So why can't a dad say "hey, my kid's good at football, we picked a school district that was good for that" without being kicked in the teeth for it?
-- Jason McDonald, Edgewood
This is ridiculous. It is ok for the Sunseri kid to transfer from North Carolina to Central Catholic, just because it is a catholic school. That is wrong, he transferred for athletic reasons as well.
-- Robert L. Walker III, White Oak
If parents moved away from a school district with a poor academic reputation to one that would offer their children a better academic challenge, we would applaud those parents. If parents had a child with extraordinary musical talent and moved from a district with a poor music program to one with an elite music program, we would all think that was great. But because a parent moves his son to a high school with a sterling athletic reputation, we can't allow that young man to play football. I understand that no one wants high school sports teams to have recruiting wars over prized 16-year-olds, and I understand the potential for that, if indeed it isn't already happening at some schools in the PIAA. However, we live in a society in which athletics offers opportunities for at least a college education (providing the athlete has enough sense to be a student) if not a lucrative professional career. If high school is intended to give young people an opportunity to fulfill their potential through stiff challenges, we should embrace the notion of fulfilling athletic potential as warmly as we embrace the notion of fulfilling academic or musical potential. Furthermore, if we value so highly the idea of homegrown vs homegrown, why do we bring in coaches from outside a given district? So, if it's okay to bring in a successful coach from somewhere else, it should be okay to allow an athlete with potential to move to that district as well.
-- Earl H. McDaniel, North Versailles
I have to say that I agree with the decision to rule Rob Gronkowski ineligible for the upcoming football season. It was obvious after his father made those comments that playing football at a high profile school such as Woodland Hills was a primary reason for them moving. Although I have found myself kind of torn and rooting for this kid to an extent. I am a passionate fan of high school football and more specifically Pennsylvania High School Football. When looking on various scouting websites I have found a pretty steep decline in the number of athletes from PA listed in the Top 100 Ranked players in the Nation. According to Rivals there are only 2 (Pat Bostick at 70 and Nick Sukay at 94). I believe scout.com has a couple more in their Top 100 but there is still a decline. Are these scouting services always correct? Not at all, especially in preseason rankings. You could say Elijah Fields pretty much came out of nowhere according to most scouting services last year. The point is it would have been nice to have another high profile athlete representing the W.P.I.A.L. and the State. But the bottom line is our society has to start getting back to taking pride in their own communities, and most of all their own local school districts. Instead of just picking up and moving when something isn't quite how we like it. I do feel bad for Rob and his family. It is obvious that they were passionate about playing for Woodland Hills and experiencing all the great things that happen under the lights on Friday Nights in Western PA. Whether it is at Woodland Hills or some other school district I wish him the best of luck in what is sure to be a very successful future.
-- Gary W., Fredericktown, Pa.
We're going to come down hard on an out of state transfer but we continue to allow Central Catholic to recruit from the entire county for football and basketball. Isn't it time for the WPIAL to assign boundaries to the catholic schools? A player from Bethel Park can't be bussed to Woodland Hills school district for athletic purposes but he can be bussed to Oakland!
-- Bob O'Brien, Bethel Park
This is one of the most absurd rulings the wpial has ever made! This kid and his family, moved into the area for business reasons, and happen to want to further the kids football playing by choosing a good football program. What about sunseri? and the central cathlic recruting system? The Wpial had better rethink this decision, for all future athletes that have to move for hardship reasons.
-- Mike Truymble
So, according to the WPIAL ideal, if I seek out a school district noted for its excellent academics and move there specifically for the challenge it offers my children, my children won't be eligible to take classes that first year? What a ridiculous notion, that one cannot purposefully seek a better education -- be it in sports, music or academics -- for your children at the high school level. How else better to prepare for continuing education?
-- Eileen Hornbake, formerly of Pittsburgh, now in Raleigh, N.C.
I completely disagree with the WPIAL ruling on the Gronkowski case. The boy moved here from New York, his dad owns stores here, he knew a few kids who went to Woodland Hills who he wanted to play with. He is going to be a senior and just wanted to know a few kids instead of going to a new school with absolutley know one friendly. I believe that if the kid is coming from out of state, he should be allowed to play, it's not affecting the WPIAL by having under the table recruiting going on among their teams. It seems that based on precedent (Senseri) Rob Gronkowski should be able to play.
But I may be a bit partial, I'm a student at Woodland Hills.
-- Cassidy Adkins
If the PIAA can afford Sunseri the opportunity to play football at Central Catholic there is no real reason why Rob Gronkowski, should not be permitted to play at Woodland Hills. Both athletes have transferred because of personal reasons whether it be for athlete reasons or because of attending the same school as there farther.
-- Edward Greene
THIS IS AMERICA!!!!! If the student and his parent are living here, he should be allowed to play for Woodland Hills.
-- Jill Balmer, Allenport, Pa.
I don't understand how they can deny him the right to play football, but not basketball or any other sport. It should be all or nothing. Let the kid play ...
-- Scott Duffey, Plum
It seems that decisions by the WPIAL organization are made selectively. At least this latest transfer had a parent with him and had established residency in the district. What about the young man who is quarterback for Central who conveniently transferred from either North or South Carolina and is living with a relative. I guess it helps that his dad played at Pitt. Or what about students who are recruited from Westmoreland county to play b-ball at Oakland Catholic.
-- Helen Sharrer
The result is wrong. I wonder if the result would be the same if the student was a third string tight end. The decision sets bad precedent. A parent has a legit reason to move but also sees an opportunity for a child to excel in sports. That is good parenting. My wife and I moved our family from Bethel Park to a small school (Mars) for many reasons, including affordable housing and lower taxes, but we also thought a smaller school would give our kids a better shot at playing sports or being involved in extracurricular activities. Does that make our move one for "athletic intent"? Obviously not. But if they were in high school the WPIAL might rule otherwise. Ridiculous. In addition to the intent rule being way too vague, the problem is that the children are punished due to actions of adults, actions the kids can't control. If proof of recruiting is shown, rule the student ineligible. Otherwise, let people move where they want and don't punish the kids.
-- Jeff Russell, Adams Township
The student at Woodlands Hills was ruled ineligible because his dad didn't keep his mouth shut.
The student at Central Catholic moved for athletic intent as well but his family kept their mouths shut.
Bottom line, the time has come to put the WPIAL back in the hands of the high school principals. There is no need for superintendents and other high level school administrators to be on the WPIAL board of control.
When the new Quad A conferences were formed, Central Catholic should have been in the Quad East and Kiski Area should have been in the Quad South with the rest of the Westmoreland County schools.
There is too much politics when it comes to some of actions carried out by the WPIAL.
No matter what, I feel if you make your residence in a school district and paying taxes, you should have a right to participate in school activities in that district.
The moving in with your grandparents or other relative or renting an apartment just to claim residency while the rest of your family is living in your original district doesn't cut it with me.
-- Patrick Leyland, New Kensington
The WPIAL's ruling in the case of Ron Gronkowski once again smacks of preferential treatment given to Central Catholic. Ron Gronkowski's father owns businesses in the Pittsburgh area. He has established residence in the Woodland Hills school district with his son. He was not sent here by his parents to play football while they appointed a relative or friend his "guardian". His parents have accompanied him and are contributing members to tax base of the school district and community in which he lives. I'm certain that they would have attended every one of his games and would not have had to fly in to do it. If Ron's father is guilty of anything, it is honesty. Believe it or not, that's actually considered to be an honorable trait in a person. Apparently that's not a lesson that the WPIAL is interested in teaching young Ron.
Once again Central Catholic has gotten away with recruiting practices. Aren't there rules against that? It's bad enough that they are allowed to recruit players from any local school district that they choose. Now they are allowed to go anywhere in the country. I guess the only provision to this is that the athletes have to be the children of their alumni. Why not fly them in from south Florida? There are plenty of blue chip athletes down there who are attending bad schools. They could say that it was done in the name of Catholic charity and probably find a way to say that their tuition is paid for by some type of "scholarship". Or is Central only bringing in kids from out of town whose parents have money?
I'd like to point out that my letter is not being written by a "Central hater". I attend Central Catholic football games, along with the games of many other schools, as a fan of WPIAL football. I have many very close friends who are Central alumni and often stand by their sides as they cheer on their alma mater. But Central's blatant defiance of the rules against recruiting in high school sports sickens me. I just look at their football team in a different light now because the values of fair play that I learned while growing up in the Catholic education system are definitely not being used there now. It's a shame when even a religious institution like Central doesn't consider the value of fairness sacred.
-- Jim Franciscus, Pittsburgh
Based on the newspaper article and the findings of the WPIAL committee it appears that the correct decision was made. If the father was pompous enough to make such comments based on athletics instead of just keeping quiet, then he sabotaged his son.
Athletics has turned into a money-making machine. The temptation is too great.
-- Terry Hoover, Bradford
I strongly disagree with the ruling that prohibits this young man from playing. It sounds to me like the decision to move to Pgh was based on the family's ownership of G&G stores, therefore WPIALs rule should not apply. The family is not transferring for sports reasons, rather choosing a school district that can allow their son to play competitively based on his ability.
This transfer rule should only apply to student athletes who reside in WPIAL's jurisdiction only (like a Central Catholic to WH transfer), and not to student athletes who relocate from outside of it.
-- Dave McLaughlin, Lexington, S.C.
I have seen WPIAL ignore obvious athletic transfers every year where a student changes districts within the WPIAL or enrolls in a private school with a great basketball or swim program on the other side of the county once they reach high school age. I don't see any way that this kid can be ruled ineligible because his family moved to the area and his father did what any parent whose child has an athletic interest is obligated to do. In this case, if the Gronkowski's didn't settle on Woodland Hills, you can be certain it would have been one of the other districts with a strong football program. It is no secret that Western PA has strong high school football programs. Are we not allowing families with children who play football to move to Allegheny County any more because of that?
Parents with kids in sports that move to a new city should do their homework and find out which schools have stronger programs that will offer their child more opportunity. This happens every year in every sport in every city. If the parents are legitimately living in the district, I don't see why the WPIAL would decide that retarding his athletic development would be an equitable solution.
I would view the inequity of private schools, where the potential student pool is essentially unbound by any geographic lines, competing with AA public schools to be a far more pressing issue for the WPIAL "fairness committee" to be concerned with. I don't begrudge any child the opportunity to pursue their dream, but those look like athletic transfers almost to a player, where few or none of the parents live anywhere near the school.
-- Bill White, Winchester, Va.
The ruling not allowing a talented athlete from participating in the sport that could enable him to possibly continue his education on scholarship is wrong. The father has legitimate businesses in the Pittsburgh area and he has good reason to move to where it best suits his business. To deny the son a chance to further his skills and scholarship possibility is wrong. If there is more to the story we don't know about ok, but based on the information we have I feel that this ruling is wrong
-- Bill McMahon, Pittsburgh
I'm sure every school in the WPIAL knew what the result of this hearing would be ... if the student was going to Central Catholic it would be approved, but if it was any public school, it would not be approved. The childs father made the mistake of picking the "wrong" program for his son. Clearly, the rules are different for Central Catholic (Tino Sunseri's case was approved when he transferred for the exact same reason). "Best team money can buy" is a phrase uttered even by the parents of Central Catholic students. It was a miracle that the McKeesport Tigers won last year without recruiting and the backing of the WPIAL.
-- Peggy Knoch, White Oak
I think if a parent or student feels that he or she will do better in another school district (athletic) then they should be able to go. We are in the age of producing a "well rounded" student (athlete) and giving this kids choices. If this was for academic or personal reasons no one would frown on it. But if this person is trying to get to a higher level of competition then give them the chance. Why would you want to hold back someone's potential of becoming a better person?
-- Matt Coleman, Pittsburgh
I think it is very unfair. If this kid would have been a basketball star and moved into the Blackhawk Area School district, the WPIAL would have paid the moving company. There is a very distinct double standard from Ace Heberling down to the present day Czar. Perhaps someone should do a little research and see who was eligible and who wasn't and which school they were transferring to. This kid should appeal the ruling.
-- John P. Swenglish
Frankly, I see the WPIAL as the "dinosaur that didn't die". Pointing figures at inconsistencies, deceptive parents, their parent organization (PIAA) etc. rather than looking internally to rectify the problem is status quo for this organization. The executive director and other officials, some of whom are paid six figures plus, should be chastised for their wishy-washy actions and mixed messages to the community, schools, parents, and athletes.
Mr. Gronkowski's father was refreshingly honest, when he said that they choose to move to Woodland Hills so that the son could play football there. He set an example for other parents who try to circumvent the arcane WPIAL bureaucracy with fabrications and fairy tales as to the reason their son/daughter moved to another district under a guardianship, etc. He was honest to a fault.
In today's increasing mobile, transient, and global business world, there should be little reason to question the businessman's move. He owns 5 businesses in the area. Many newcomers to the Pittsburgh/Western Pennsylvania area scope out school districts to determine the best academic, social and athletic fit for their students. Many families maintain 2 household residences for business and/or other purposes. (Just think Senator Rick Santorum.) It only makes common sense that a family would choose a school district that has everything that the family would feel best fits their student's interests and abilities.
Should we make every family that moves to this area "suspect" for athletic intent when they choose a certain school district and have a son/daughter with athletic abilities?
The WPIAL needs to step into the 21st century and deal with the realities of the business, academic and modern family's world.
-- L.M. Evans, Butler
I think this is a typical ruling for the WPIAL, looking at the history of transfers from Danny Fortson, to the Texas kids who attended New Castle, from Tino Sunseri, to the numerous students who have moved into the Blackhawk school district (see the Daren Tielsch who was ok when he moved into but not when he moved out) there is absolutely no logic.
I do not know the 'behind the scene' stories for any of these student athletes but it seems that the only thing that the WPIAL encourages is dishonesty.
If you lie and stick to the story your are eligible, this student and his father I have no doubt transferred for the exact same reasons as Sunseri, solely for academic reasons, football was just icing on the cake (wink, wink).
This kid is ineligible because his father who DID move stated that it was nice that his son's football career would be helped by the move he made for his business interests?
Please wake up!
The bigger question, would he be ineligible if he was registered at different school and said the same thing?
The good thing is I have no doubt that the PIAA will overturn this, which they almost always seem to do.
In the meantime WPIAL, keep encouraging dishonesty, it's the lesson that you are teaching to parents and students in Southwest PA.
-- John Boone, Fairfax, Va.
If a family (parent(s) and child) move from one school district to another it should be none of the WPIALs concern.
In the cases where a child moves away from a parent to a gaurdian then the WPIAL should be concerned.
-- Bill Tomer
I think this ruling is totally wrong.The kid should be allowed to go to any school he wants as long as he lives in that area.I have been following this article and totally think that the WPIAL Needs to change it thinking. His parents are sacrificing there own life this year to help there kid persue a dream.
-- G. James Fuss
Give me a break!! The only reason, the kid and dad transferred was to play football at a big time western PA school. We know the routine, the dad, school and family will testify to the contrary and plead how well intentioned they are and it had nothing to do with football. Given that three of the five G & G stores are in Cranberry, on McKnight Road and in Robinson Town Center, maybe a more convenient school to transfer to would have been Avonworth or Northgate. That way, poor old dad would be closer to his stores, he is so concerned about. It doesn't matter anyway ... on Thursday, the PIAA wil overturn the WPIAL decision and daddy and boy and Mr. Righteous George Novak will all be happy!
-- Tom Gallagher, Saxonburg
I certainly agree with the ruling, because it has been done so often in western Pa, where a school district would actually go out and recruit kids just to improve their football, basketball etc. teams. Thats NOT what high school should be about. Far too much attention and money is devoted to the athletic depts. in high schools in todays society, even at expense of books and other tools for learning.
-- Chuck Seaman, Waynesburg
Ridiculous ruling. Anyone with school age children who moves to Pittsburgh -- or any other town -- picks where they live by what they think the schools will offer their children. Why should this be any different?
-- Peggy Fischbeck
Transfers within the WPIAL are one thing -- you certainly want to prevent a school from gathering all the best talent if they have to proselytize from their competition. But a transfer from out of state is ridiculous. Even if he did come to the area for athletic reasons you should be proud that the level of play is that high. I do believe that this deprives a student athlete of his one chance to develop his skills and earn a scholarship perhaps to a better college. Given the fact that they are moving into WPIAL territory is it not natural the he would seek a competitive atmosphere? Seems like nitpicking to me.
-- Marty Walsh
The young man's father was honest to a fault. It should have been enough for the WPIAL to
accept that his father had moved to PA for business purposes had he stopped there. But once it was said that he wanted to play for a better program it was all over.
-- Buz Whalen, Sarasota, Fla.
I disagree with the WPIAL ruling since the parent of Rob Gronkowski has a job secured in the region from what I read earlier on the website.
Yes Rob's scholastic abilities will probably get him a scholarship, but he will probably get one no matter where he plays football.
I say let him play.
-- B.L. Jenkins, Braddock
I believe that Rob Gronkowski should not have been ruled ineligible by the WPIAL. Although that he transferred to Woodland Hills for athletic reasons, I believe, with his strength, he would've helped Woodland Hills have a great season. It was a shame and disappointment made by Tim O' Malley and the WPIAL today for this ruling. Woodland Hills' season might be changed around with the absence of Gronkowski.
-- Aaron, Hunker
At least one of Gronkowski's parents would have resided here, which is more than other recent transfers can say. As to his father's comments, any parent would be derelict if they failed to consider ALL factors (academics, athletics, etc) in making a major decision that affects their child's future -- he was merely being truthful. We should applaud the father's honesty about the situation instead of punishing it. This ruling is just another example of the hypocrisy and inconsistency that have been the hallmarks of the WPIAL over the years.
What can you say -- In regard to "athletic intent," if Tino Sunseri is eligible to play in the WPIAL, there is NO athlete ANYWHERE who is ineligible, including Gronkowski.
-- CW Evans, Butler
It is a tough decision, and one I think the PIAA might overturn.
The problem in this situation is his father owned several stores in the Pittsburgh area. That pretty much means he could have moved anywhere in the Pittsburgh area if he wanted to be closer to them. That being the case, why wouldn't he pick to live someplace that was going to benefit his son?
It is almost comical when you think about it. If he would have moved to the exact same place and decided to send his son to Pittsburgh Central Catholic, nothing could have been done unless one could prove he was recruited to the school. This is where people complain that private schools have an advantage. Same situation, but looked upon differently.
I think it is a very thin line the PIAA and WPIAL are dealing with. Did they move there strictly so his son could play for Woodland Hills? Not according to his father ... it was to be close to his business interests. Did the fact that Woodland Hills has a good football progrma set them apart from the other areas they could have moved too? That is obviously the case.
But to say that was the only reason to move there, I think it would be very difficult to prove that and, for that reason, I think the PIAA may overturn it. If not, this could go to court.
-- Matthew Digiacomo Meadville, Pa.
Bob Smizik's recent column regarding WPIAL transfer rules doesn't fully address the issues involved. I, for one, believe the WPIAL wields too much power in determining which athletes are deemed eligible to play and which are deemed ineligible.
Yes, the Gronkowski's made brazen comments regarding Rob's enrollment in the Woodland Hills School District. So what? If the elder Gronkowski planned on moving to the Pittsburgh area anyway, shouldn't he have the right to investigate the various school districts and choose a school that provides a good opportunity for his son?
It would be ludicrous for him to deliberately choose a school with a less than stellar athletic program, just to prove to the WPIAL that the transfer was not for 'athletic intent'. Most of the time, it's a parent who gets a job transfer and has to uproot his or her family to another location. Why should a son or daughter lose a year of athletic eligibility, as Smizik suggested, just to prove that the move wasn't for 'athletic intent'?
Furthermore, many families simply move because they seek a larger house or a better location. Should those children also lose a year of athletic eligibility? In Smizik's world of twisted logic, it seems that the determining factor is the success or lack thereof, of the major athletic program -- football. If a student is transferring to a school with a more successfull football program, it must be for athletic intent. If the new school has an unsuccessful football program, then the transfer is presumed to be for 'other reasons'.
Although the WPIAL governing body has done many good things, I believe it oversteps it's bounds when it starts prying into the private lives of families and students and trying to determine the real intent of transfers. And if Tino Sunseri wants to play at his dad's alma mater, who cares? He still has to prove himself out on the playing field. He wouldn't be the first student to attend a certain school simply because his father or mother had also attended there.
I believe that, when moving, most families consider the quality of the school districts when determining where they might live, whether the primary consideration is academic, athletic, or both. The WPIAL rules committee should not have to be another concern for these families.
-- John Butela
First Published August 21, 2006 12:00 am