As a follower of our local high school athletic scene, I read with great interest today’s editorial from the Toledo Blade chastising Whitmer High School administration for academic performance that the Blade calls merely average while at the same time ruthlessly pursuing star athletes from other school districts. The words “ruthlessly pursuing” do not appear in the editorial however that notion is implied.
Whitmer High School’s run at a state football championship this season will be meaningless unless Washington Local school administrators also develop a game plan to make the school an academic powerhouse, and prove to state officials that they did not improperly recruit athletes.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is investigating a number of transfers to Whitmer’s football program. If star athlete LeRoy Alexander and others were wrongly recruited by Whitmer, the association must make the point that education is more important to developing youths than wins and losses on the field.
I have no idea whether Whitmer officials did anything improper when it comes to the transfers of late. I suspect they may have shaved some corners, but that is not the reason why this editorial caught my eye and prompted this post.
Public schools in urban settings are at a distinct disadvantage over their private counterparts when it comes to athletics. Whitmer has boundaries. St. Francis de Sales High School has no such boundaries. In fact St. Francis can reach as far as one is willing to drive, including into other states under certain circumstances. It is inherently unfair. It has become such that local school districts have to bust their butts just to get their own students to stay and not go to one of the privates.
St John Jesuit High School had (and may still) a program called the 20/20 program. I don’t know all the details but from very reliable sources I can relate that this was a “scholarship” program meant to reach out to inner city kids who ordinarily would not be able to afford a St John Jesuit education. It turns out, that while undoubtedly some of the scholarships were given to some very intelligent, non-athletic types, some of the scholarships were given to star basketball players initially and later star athletes in other sports. Word on the street was that the program was initially overseen by the head basketball coach and then later by the head football coach which instantly ought to send up some red flags. Whether that is true or not, I cannot say. To the best of my knowledge, the Blade has never approached the subject.
There may be other shenanigans occurring at Central Catholic and St Francis de Sales. Perhaps the Blade, rather than chastising, should focus more on why Whitmer may feel the need to shave corners in the first place.