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    Default Coaches grapple with the MHSAA

    Highland Park wrestlers face one-year suspension because Washington
    was at an outstate meet.

    Terry Foster / The Detroit News

    HIGHLAND PARK — There’s a showdown brewing in Michigan high school
    sports this week — and it has nothing to do with the baseball,
    softball and soccer tournaments.

    On Wednesday morning, representatives of Highland Park High School
    square off against the Executive Committee of the Michigan High
    School Athletic Association.

    The MHSAA has demanded Highland Park suspend wrestling coaches Glen
    Washington and Jamar Whitfield for one year because of their
    participation in a non-sanctioned meet in Virginia. If not, the MHSAA
    has threatened, Highland Park wrestlers will be banned from next
    season’s team and individual state tournaments. Furthermore, Highland
    Park’s membership in the MHSAA could be suspended, effectively
    shutting all teams out of postseason play.

    Highland Park officials, in turn, are seeking a change to MHSAA rules
    and threatening legal action.

    “If they want a fight, they got one,” Highland Park school board
    president Robert Davis said.

    MHSAA communications director John Johnson said Highland Park still
    would be eligible to participate in regular-season competition. He
    said other schools have been banned from tournaments, but could not
    provide documentation.

    “It is very infrequent,” Johnson said.

    Detroit King was banned from the Class A girls basketball tournament
    in 1999 for playing too many regular-season games. Detroit Community
    was banned from the boys basketball tournament in 2003 for using an
    ineligible player.

    MHSAA executive director John R. Roberts outlined the possible
    sanctions in a letter dated May 3. The MHSAA contends Washington and
    Whitfield violated Regulation II, Section 13, which prohibits coaches
    from national exhibition and all-star competitions during the school

    Crux of argument
    Washington and Whitfield admit coaching seniors Jaron Trice and
    Anthony Jones at the National High School Coaches Association Senior
    Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va., March 29-April 1.

    Highland Park officials claim Washington and Whitfield did not
    violate the MHSAA rule because they were not employed as coaches by
    the school district at the time. All Highland Park coaches submit
    resignations at the end of their seasons and reapply for their
    positions before the next season.

    Highland Park officials are asking the MHSAA to adopt their
    interpretation of the rule — that coaching status ends once the
    season is complete and not at the end of the school year. Roberts’
    May 3 letter contends that’s a semantic argument to skirt the
    established rule.

    Davis said the school terminates employees because it gives it
    greater flexibility with personnel. Washington said he submitted his
    resignation because he wants to avoid “conflicts of interest” with
    his wrestling club (Silverback Academy Wrestling Club).
    Were there others?

    Johnson said the MHSAA is investigating claims other state coaches
    participated in the Virginia meet, and guilty schools would meet the
    same punishment as Highland Park.

    The Highland Park violation was easy to determine because video of
    the finals were posted by Trice advanced to the
    final, and Washington and Whitfield were visible, while all other
    Michigan wrestlers were eliminated in earlier rounds. Also, Highland
    Park officials chose to take the case public.

    Johnson disputed claims Canton wrestling coach Casey Randolph also
    participated but will receive less punishment.

    “I can’t say specific schools,” Johnson said. “We have information
    about other schools who had coaches at the same competition who are
    being handled in the exact same manner. Coaches can go as spectators.
    There were coaches in the stands who were not coaching. That is where
    the line is. Going on the mat is a totally different thing.”

    Randolph did not respond to telephone messages.

    Dearborn Fordson coach Jerry Marszalek said the Highland Park coaches
    are on shaky ground. Marszalek said he often watches his wrestlers in
    other meets, but he remains in the stands and does not coach them.
    “If you are going to push the envelope, you have to pay the price,”
    he said. “You know you are not supposed to do it. In my opinion, the
    kids would have done well without them. When a kid is good you don’t
    have that much influence.”

    Clarkston coach Joe DeGain wrestled in the meet in 1996. One of his
    wrestlers, Mike Maguire, competed this year.

    “I didn’t even go,” DeGain said.
    Wrestlers are provided a coach by the national federation if they
    Rule bars athletes, too.

    The rule also states any athlete who participates in a national event
    loses eligibility for one calendar year. For example, if a basketball
    player participates in the McDonald’s All-American game he cannot
    play spring sports.

    Johnson said most states have the rule.

    “Educators have felt that national championships and travel
    competition is not in the best interest of education and athletics,”
    Johnson said.

    Monroe wrestling coach Dave Winger believes the rule should be

    “If you are good enough, you should be able to go,” Winger said. “The
    state of Michigan is very selfish in they want the state championship
    to be the ultimate.”

    Richmond coach George Hamblin had two wrestlers eligible to compete
    in the meet.

    Brian Peterson wrestled and lost his spring eligibility. Lance Pitcel
    decided to run track.

    “It’s a tough decision for kids because a lot of them want to go
    since it’s big for college coaches,” Hamblin said.

    Washington claims neither he nor the kids were representing Highland
    Park. They were representatives of the Silverbacks.

    “I don’t feel we violated any rules,” Washington said. “At the end of
    the year we are terminated. We put in our resignation and then we go
    all over the country and do other things.

    “I don’t understand this whole thing.”

    Washington said the school is not trying to “skirt rules.” He simply
    wanted his kids to participate in a meet where college coaches could
    see them.

    “I wonder what due process is and what past practice is.”
    Last edited by Schlottke; 06-17-2007 at 07:08 PM.

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