Gallagher column: Pinyan says proposal is about what's right and wrong

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Salisbury High School has made news across the state this week and not for the usual reasons — state title after state title.
Principal Windsor Eagle and athletic director Joe Pinyan proposed amendments that schools like Charlotte Catholic, Cardinal-Gibbons and Bishop McGuiness — “The Big 3,” as some refer to them — should not be allowed to participate with public schools in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
They were just acknowledging what many coaches and athletic officials have muttered about under their breath. These schools should have their own separate playoff system, says Pinyan.
Pinyan adds that non-boarding parochial and charter schools should be in an independent league but not the NCSHAA for one very good reason.
“These schools have no boundaries,” he said. “They can get kids from anywhere. That’s one factor, to me, that’s wrong.”
In 1986, we went through this and it was turned down. Pinyan said it was again time to step up.
“I don’t want all these people mad at me,” Pinyan said Wednesday afternoon. “A lot of things they believe in, I may not believe in. Things I believe in, from what you read and hear, they don’t believe in.”
But on this stance, he remains firm.
“It’s an opinion that’s evident across the state,” Pinyan said. “Nobody would ever stand up and fight it (since 1986).”
Some wonder why Rowan County got involved with this issue in the first place. These schools are not in their conferences.
“Because what’s wrong is wrong,” Pinyan said. “Why do we have an independent league? Why aren’t they playing in it?”
No one wants to say the dreaded word, but many think these schools recruit. You have to wonder.
Pinyan points out that back in the fall, Cardinal Gibbons, in a short time frame, won state titles in — ready for this? — volleyball, girls tennis, boys cross country, girls cross country and boys soccer.
And who did Cardinal-Gibbons beat in the soccer final? Charlotte Catholic.
Cardinal Gibbons probably has good relationships with all the schools it plays, but Pinyan will be the first to remind Crusader officials the proposal has nothing to do with relationships. He keeps repeating that the schools have no boundaries. They can get athletes from anywhere, something he, West Rowan’s Scott Young or Carson’s Mark Woody can not do without it being called recruiting.
“If you ask everybody to be perfectly honest, they’ll tell you they’re not comfortable with it,” Pinyan said. “I’m not comfortable with it. The biggest reason is no boundaries.”
Charter schools have also been brought into the equation. Feedback from that side said that they are free and public schools and admission is based on a public lottery when they receive more applicants than they can admit.
A response sent to NCHSAA, signed by officials from Charlotte Catholic, among others, stated, “While our schools do not have established geographic boundaries, we do deal with other factors that create boundaries for our system. Experience has shown that distance and transportation are two major factors for parents in school selection. When our system was admitted in the NCHSAA, we agreed to a transfer rule policy in order to address this issue. For the past 50 years, this policy, unique to our schools, has served to level the playing field.”
Principals have until Tuesday to vote on this matter. Pinyan said it will take 75 percent of the schools to vote them out as NCHSAA members, and that might not happen. Would Cape Hatteras on the right coast or Murphy on the left even vote at all? Will Charlotte schools vote them out when Charlotte Catholic is the money gate for most of them?
“I’m just standing up for what I believe,” Pinyan said. “If what I believe hurts somebody’s feelings, I’m sorry. We never attacked anybody individually and never attacked one school. The bottom line is, it’s gone on for years and years and years.
“If we were all playing by the same rules on the same playing field, nobody would say a word.”

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or