NCHSAA: Myers Park First Ever to Make Formal Waiver Request

Association Has Never Had A Formal Request or Appeal; Never Had a Reason to Closely Review How Strict Rule Application Penalizes Our Most Deserving Student Athletes
 
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - March 15, 2015 - PRLog -- The official response from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) is that other schools have requested exemptions to play in out of season national tournaments in the past and that Myers Park High School's request is basically no different than the other denied requests.

However, Randolph Cloud, a NCHSAA spokesman, said this week that no other high school has ever made a formal (written) request for a waiver of the rule prohibiting out of season play. Furthermore, He said that no school, except Myers Park High School, had ever appealed a NCHSAA ruling denying a school's opportunity to play in a post-season tournament.

The question put to the NCHSAA by a local legislator was:"Could you name how many official waiver requests you have received in the past 15 years that have dealt with a member team playing outside the regular season? I would like to know the time frame and situation."

Randolph Cloud's answer on behalf of the NCHSAA was:

"An amendment to this rule has never been requested by NCHSAA member schools."

Why is this important? Well, it means that the NCHSAA Board of Directors has never had a pressing reason to revisit how strict application of the rule robs our most hard-working, talented and deserving student athletes of the cultural and educational experience of a lifetime.

Myers Park supporters have increasingly been vocal about their objection to this year's 30-1 Mustang team - perhaps the best in North Carolina history - being banned from a prestigious national post-season tournament bid April 2-4. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and Myers Park officials have both formally requested a waiver for the team to play. After having been denied, the full NCHSAA Board will hear a formal conference call appeal from these officials Tues. afternoon.

The trip appears to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Only four women's basketball teams will receive an all expense paid trip to New York April 3 to have the chance to play at Madison Square Garden on ESPN2 in the prestigious Dick's Nationals tournament. The #4 nationally ranked Mustangs repeated as North Carolina 4A Champions with a 52-47 victory over Southeast Raleigh in the Dean E. Smith Center Sat., March 14.

According to NCHSAA rules, the Mustangs' season was over at the final buzzer of the championship game Saturday night...no exceptions.

However, about 2,600 supporters have signed a Change.org petition in just a few days pleading for the NCHSAA to extend the Mustang season three more weeks. Also, as the final seconds ticked off, Myers Park students, cheerleaders and fans implored the association officials on hand with a chant of "Let Them Play."

At her post-game press conference, Coach Barbara Nelson passionately talked about how much basketball had meant to her personally as it relates to this situation. The 600+ win coach discussed how many places she had visited through basketball in her career. She also pointed out how unfair a denial of the cultural, educational and sports trip would be to her young team. Three freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and three seniors are on the team.

Nelson told reporters she doubted that some on her team would ever have the chance to visit New York, much less compete on the Madison Square Garden court.

Cloud's comments are the first indication that no school has ever gone beyond getting a verbal denial under the out of season rule. Myers Park has pressed the issue further than any other high school. Nelson said the exemption should be granted to any state champion that is ranked high enough nationally to compete.

In short, while it is true other football teams or perhaps a basketball team have been denied, these member schools have never put their waiver request in writing, lobbied the board and then appealed a denial.

Times are a' changing in high school sports. Social media shares player's and teams' exploits instantaneously. There are so many media outlets- broadcast, print and internet-based - that the micro interest in sports has never been greater. And, schools travel further and more frequently to see just how good they are. And, with the surging cost of education, kids and coaches want to play on the "big stage."

The bottom line is that there will more and of these nationally televised tournaments for high school teams. And, if the tournament doesn't dramatically interfere with sports schedules, academics or school finances, how is anybody hurt?

Today, overachieving men's football teams get many opportunities to play in nationally televised games. In fact, Charlotte's Independence HS played Cincinnati's Elder High School in 2007 at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Football Stadium. However, this was a pre-season, rather than a post-season contest. The opportunities are fewer for women's sports.

For Myers Park High School, this team is the most successful in school history and perhaps in Charlotte and North Carolina history. In the past four years, the team is 119-4 and has not lost in Mecklenburg County. Coach Barbara Nelson knows the team is competitively up to the challenge of playing the nation's best. But, characteristically, she also sees the human development value.

"This would be a great educational opportunity," Nelson was quoted by the Charlotte Observer. "...to take kids who have never been (to New York) and may never get there, to see the Statue of Liberty in person instead of in a picture; to stand on top of the Empire State Building; or to go to Ground Zero. Some of these kids weren't born when 9-11 happened and for those kids to have that opportunity, well, it will be a shame if that's withheld from them."

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