Outgoing N.J. Gov. Christie pocket vetoes school co-op billA New Jersey bill that would have allowed high schools in the same district to merge their athletic programs was pocket vetoed Monday by Gov. Chris Christie.
State lawmakers had already passed the bill, but this week it was among those that were not signed by Christie. Incidentally, Phil Murphy was sworn in Tuesday as the new governor of New Jersey, so the bill would now have to be reintroduced and reconsidered by legislators before it’s returned to the governor’s desk.The bill would have allowed larger high schools in the same district to co-op their sports teams, a move that concerned the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). The association believed the change could lead to powerhouse programs, or “super teams.”
“Both bills, as written, will allow schools to drop programs and limit playing opportunities, rather than create them — and the legislation would actually be replacing a level playing field with competitive imbalance,” Larry White, NJSIAA assistant director, said before Monday’s decision by Christie. “Fewer teams mean fewer opportunities for students to experience education-based athletics.
“Removing any oversight or review will give districts the green light to create all-star teams from a combined school district talent pool. Every student, parent, administrator and coach should be very, very concerned.”
“I think common sense prevailed,” said Paul Anzano, legal counsel for the NJSIAA. “These bills could have had so many unintended consequences that the Legislature didn’t think about the impact it would have when putting this together. Is it a win? A little bit, but more so common sense just prevailed.”
The attempt by state legislation was believed to be the first by state lawmakers to create a law that would directly impact high school sports in New Jersey, an “unprecedented” move, NJSIAA assistant director Kim DeGraw-Cole said.
The “NJSIAA remains hopeful that the bills will not become law,” NJSIAA executive director Larry White said in a statement Monday, “and the rules of high school sports continue — as it has been for 99 years — to be made by the member schools.”
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