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Hartselle Enquirer

Closing AHSAA's loopholes

By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
When all is said and done this football season, one of the top Class 5A programs in the state just might be a school you’ve never even heard of before.
There is no shortage of great football programs in Class 5A, including Russellville and St. Paul’s. And, of course, Faith Academy.
Faith Academy will be a new member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association this season, though the school has drawn plenty of ire from coaches around the state.
Recently, Faith Academy was accused of recruiting players to stock its young football team by Theodore and Davidson high schools.
Public schools accusing a private school of illegal recruiting? Not much news in that. High school coaches in all sports have complained that private schools have an added advantage over public schools because they can get students from outside of the school’s district lines.
The AHSAA changed its classification rules to try to put all schools on an equal basis when the organization implemented its ‘1.35’ rule several years ago. The mandate says that average daily attendance at private institutions should be multiplied by 1.35 to try to level the playing field.
And the rule satisfied most coaches, or at least quieted their complaints.
Faith Academy has thrown that silence into a roar again with some alleged actions this summer, that though not necessarily illegal could be construed as unethical.
Schools, including Theodore and Davidson, have accused Faith coaches of recruiting players during the summer, even during state-sanctioned 7-on-7 tournaments.
But even if the allegations are true, the state has little recourse. Faith Academy’s AHSAA membership didn’t start until the first day of school, meaning any actions this summer didn’t come under the group’s rules.
That loophole will be closed in the next several weeks by the state, but for some, it comes too late.
Faith Academy has already made plenty of enemies around the state. And the school has done a disservice to other private schools who strive to follow the AHSAA rules as they were intended.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or by email at todd.thompson@hartselleenquirer.com

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