The sport of Football is under the spot light once again in New Brunswick, and the local media reporters, many of which have little understanding about the sport, are going to be writing stories on the topic of Player Eligibility, and how some High Schools bend those rules to their advantage.
On Friday evening, the FDS Inbox started filling up with messages about two related topics. The two players from Moncton High that were not allowed to play football in NB due to the Eligibility rules, and how Tantramar has been fielding an illegal player on their roster, which would be resulting in all four of their wins being reversed, as well as the suspension of head coach Scott O’Neal.
So as of right now there are 3 kids attending school in the province of New Brunswick that want to play High School Football, and the NBIAA are telling them they can’t… WHAT??? Did I write that previous sentence correctly? Would we stop a kid from playing a sport? I mean, this is High School! This is not Professional football, or even university level. Last time I checked there were no pay cheques going out to High School players.
We’ve reached out to the NBIAA and have invited them on to our Local Sports Podcast to discuss. We will keep you updated should they accept our invite or provide comment. For now, this is what we know from the NBIAA handbook:
ARTICLE 2 – PLAYER ELIGIBILITY
A player must be a student enrolled in a public or private high school in New Brunswick, which has become a member of the NBIAA and must be in regular attendance during the school year in which they wish to compete as certified by the school Principal.
A player is eligible:
a) for five (5) years from entering into Grade 9.
b) unless declared ineligible or suspended by their Principal.
c) until they have graduated and/or received a high school diploma or its equivalent, (or the end of the school year in which the person attains the age of 21—Education Act).
A student must carry a full complement of regular/credit courses during the four years of eligibility (Grades 9-12). Students in their 2nd semester of grade 12, with enough credits to graduate, are permitted to participate in interscholastic activities with a part time schedule. A fifth-year student is required to enrol in the courses needed to fulfill graduation requirements.
Transfer student eligibility:
A NBIAA student transfer policy has been in existence since 1980, with the intent to promote fairness in athletic competition. This policy is meant to restrict students transferring schools for athletic purposes and to prevent recruiting. Students attend school first and foremost for an education and they have the privilege to complement their education by taking part in interscholastic activities offered at that school. There is always the concern that the athletic motivated transfer simply puts athletics above academics, which is inappropriate in educational athletics.
A students five years of eligibility begins upon entering grade 9. The school at which a student is registered and attending their 1st day in Grade 10 shall be the school in which they are eligible to participate in NBIAA Championship activities for the remaining years of eligibility. Once a student transfers after establishing their school of eligibility, they are considered ineligible until approved by the NBIAA. Before a decision is rendered, the online NBIAA Transfer Form must be fully completed and submitted along with supporting documents as required. Always check with the school principal and/or the NBIAA before a student transfers, to determine whether it will affect their eligibility. Disciplinary actions will follow the student-athlete to all schools.
I. A student is eligible to participate for a NBIAA member school if they meet one of the following conditions (with the exception of any sport they participated in at their previous school in the current school year):
i) Family move: the student has moved with the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) who has changed residence and resides within the catchment area of the school at which the student has registered. The student and their immediate family must completely and permanently move from the former residence. Documents may be requested to confirm the new residence and that they have permanently moved from the former residence.
ii) Parent to parent move (separated / divorced and permanently living apart): the student moves to reside with a parent/legal guardian within the catchment area of the school at which the student has registered. Written confirmation will be requested from the Principal of the previous school in order to determine sport eligibility. Only two such transfers are allowed in a student’s years of eligibility.
iii) Short term Transfer & Return to Home: the student is transferring from one school to another school for the purpose of playing a non-NBIAA sport activity and did not participate in any NBIAA activities while attending that school. That student will not be eligible for the sport activity in which they transferred during that school year.*
*Exception for hockey – If a player is registered in any Hockey Canada/USA Seniors, Juniors, Major Midget AAA on December 1st or later, he is ineligible for NBIAA hockey for the remainder of the season.
iv) Independent / Private Schools: the student is transferring to a NBIAA member school and did not participate in any NBIAA activities at the previous school. Or, the student is transferring back to their previous catchment area school and residing with their parent(s)/ legal guardian(s).
v) District waiting list students (Saint John city schools): A district waitlist student had transferred by September 30th. The onus is on the parents to provide supporting documents from the District or School that the transfer has been requested at least 3 weeks prior to the fall sports season. The waitlist student may participate in NBIAA activities prior to transferring, but there is no guarantee that they will make a team at the new school. If a waiting list transfer occurs after September 30th, the student will be ineligible until the next season of play.
II. If the above conditions in Part I cannot be met, the transfer student is ineligible (for a period of up to 12 months). Transfers that do not meet the eligibility criteria may be reviewed by the NBIAA Transfer Committee, if supported by both the sending and receiving schools (Principals).
After reading Article 2 from the handbook there are several questions that come to mind with these three players:
- Did the schools file the proper paper work prior to the season?
- Did the parents speak with the school principal before moving these kids to these schools?
- 12 month waiting period… really?
New Brunswick High School Football is a great recruiting ground for kids that want to have a shot at the next level, and you can find plenty of NB student athletes playing at the USports level across Canada. For students wanting to play at the next level, a waiting period of 12 months is a little excessive no? Doesn’t this seem like a long wait for a kid that only has 5 years of eligibility in High School Sports? Also, in most team sports (especially Football) does one player really make that big of a difference? An argument could only be made for Quarterbacks, but we know the rosters of both the Moncton Purple Knights and Tantramar Titans quite well, and none of the kids in question play Quarterback to our knowledge.
Why Week 5?
We find it very interesting that this news broke in Week 5 of the Football season, when the Titans are 4-0 and well on their way to their 5th straight Provincial title. There is no question the Tantramar Titans are the New England Patriots of High School football in New Brunswick. They have the smallest student population of all schools playing division 1 – 12 Man, and yet the Coaching Staff continues to elevate the level these kids play at.
When it comes to Football, Coaching is what makes the difference. There is a lot to coaching… game planning, instruction, motivation, scouting younger players, etc… and Scott O’Neal has set the standard in New Brunswick. When a winning program achieves that level of success, it can be under fire from all the other coaches, players, and parents that want a piece of this winning feeling.
Football in 2019 is much different than in the past, as there are now three divisions of play versus two. Some will tell you the Titans are responsible for this, as some schools and parents didn’t want to their kids playing against the Titans because they were too rough. Some even used the word “dirty”. When in fact, it really comes down to the Titans being better coached.
Our research tells us we are dealing with a kid that has gone through some tough circumstances. The parents divorced. He lived in Truro, NS in 2018, and played football. After moving back to Amherst, whose school does not have a football team, he enrolled at Tantramar High and joined the Titans, as his siblings are also attending Sackville, NB schools. This is not uncommon, as there are several kids living in the Amherst area that attend school in Sackville. BUT, because this kid played football in Truro, Nova Scotia, he falls under the 12-month waiting period.
This brings me back to my WHAT??? What exactly are we doing here folks? Who is making these decisions and telling a kid they can’t play a sport, especially if the town the kid lives in currently doesn’t have a team playing the sport in question? We need to make it easier for kids to play the sports they love, not more difficult.
What about kids that attend Salisbury High School? Should one of those kids want to play, could another high school not allow them to play for their team?
What about Oromocto High School with all the Military families moving in and out of town? Should they have a kid that comes from another area of Canada that played for a previous high school, do we really need to have them sit out 12 months?
Here is another example… If I am a kid with big time aspirations to play at the next level, and I play for Harrison Tremble or Bernice MacNaughton High School… Would it not be better for me to play against the best High School in the province for University recruiters to see? But that is probably is another story.
These are Kids
Our whole point for this article is to remind everyone we are talking about kids between the ages of 14-18. They are rarely responsible for their living circumstances in their High School years, we need to set these kids up for success as they are preparing for their adult years.
As Adults, what the heck are we teaching these kids??? You can’t play for 12 months because you’re a kid that played for another High School… Blah Blah Blah
Let the Kids play!!!