N.J. taking steps to separate public, private football teams

The New Jersey athletic association’s executive committee on Wednesday endorsed a proposal that would split public and non-public schools in football and individual wrestling.

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association

The proposition now goes before the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s general membership, which will vote on it during its December meeting. If approved, the change would take place beginning with the 2016-17 season.

Separating public and private schools has been debated in New Jersey for some time now. The Press of Atlantic City reports that much of the argument stems from recruiting and competitive balance.

From the article:

Public schools say they can’t compete against non-public schools because they can recruit and draw players from countless towns. The recent rise of public “choice” schools, which can also draw students from other towns has only complicated matters. Several North Jersey public schools have already announced they plan to forfeit games against non-public schools this fall.

The committee focused on football in part because of the physical nature of the sport. A public school basketball team can lose to a non-public team by 30 points and play the next day. But a public school football team that loses a lopsided game to a non-public team could have players injured. Those injuries could impact the rest of the public team’s season.

Proponents for splitting schools in individual wrestling use a similar argument.

The NJSIAA executive committee also supported a separate proposal that would penalize student-athletes who transfer between public and private schools.

Under the plan, any athlete who transfers to or from a non-public or choice school would be required to sit the first 30 days of the season and be banned from the state tournament.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that the proposals can still be modified at the NJSIAA’s sectional meetings this fall before they head to a ballot for the general membership.

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