Hoops coaches: New Archdiocesan transfer rule should even playing field

The Archdiocese has now made it easier for public school students to jump to the CHSAA and play with teams like Cardinal Hayes against Bishop Loughlin.
File photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Archdiocese of New York just made it easier for kids to play sports in their high schools.

The dioceses’ principals voted to change its transfer rule regarding public school students. They can now transfer in for their freshmen through junior year and be allowed to suit up without penalty in all sports, according to CHSAA boys’ basketball chairperson Paul Gilvary. In the past boys would have to sit out a full season not matter what if coming in from an area public school. The Archdiocese includes the Bronx, Westchester, Manhattan and Staten Island. Its girls’ teams have been operating under the no sitting rule for the last two years, according to Scanlan athletic director Tom Catalanotto.

The switch on the boys’ side was propelled by the Catholic High School Football League putting a similar rule in play in June. The reasoning behind it is to help schools battle dwindling enrollment, which has caused a number to close and others to be in danger in the future. The principals’ hope is to keep students in their school and not hinder others who want to enter. The Brooklyn dioceses’ principals have yet to vote on changing the rule in for their schools and do not meet again until October, according to sources.

“I think the way the principals are looking at this is they don’t want athletics to be the reason that a kid doesn’t transfer,” Gilvary said.

The new rule also helps even the playing field with the Public School Athletic League. It has long allowed transfers from Catholic schools to play right away and it has led to numerous players taking that route over the years, especially in boys’ basketball. Jordan Tucker, one of Westchester’s top players, has already bolted White Plains for Stepinac. Jessie Govan transferred from St. Mary in Manhasset to Wings last season. On the baseball side, Kevin Martir helped Xaverian win a CHSAA city title in 2011 and a year later was leading Grand Street to a PSAL crown. The rule change gives the Catcholic schools a better chance of keeping players and replacing those who leave, the league’s coaches feel.

“It made it tougher for the Catholic league team to keep the players because there was always that option,” St. Raymond boys’ basketball coach Jorge Lopez said. “Now I think it will even things out in the sense of use losing kids to the public school league. It can also happen to them as well.”

Most coaches believe this will not lead to a flood of public school kids leaving for Catholic schools in New York City, especially at the highest level. They could see a talented player from a PSAL Class B school possibly wanted to play in the CHSAA ‘A’ division or a PSAL ‘A’ kid going to the Catholic ‘AA’ in search of better competition and exposure. Star players switching schools isn’t something they see happening often.

“Am I going to see Isaiah Whitehead from Lincoln?” Cardinal Hayes boys basketball coach Joe Lods said. “He’s not coming. I don’t think it affects Hayes and CK and those schools. I don’t think it will be that big a deal.”

It’s one of the reason’s Wings boys’ hoops coach Billy Turnage didn’t give the rule a second thought upon hearing it. The impact it makes is still to be determined. He believes it is still up to the coach to treat his kids fairly enough that they want to be a part of your program and it won’t changes anything as far he runs his. Turnage doesn’t think the Catholic school’s motives were based purely in enrollment.

“I’ve heard a difference of opinion,” Turnage said. “I heard a lot of people saying that it wasn’t for athletic purposes. I tend to think it was for athletic purposes.”

Eagle boys’ basketball coach Ryan Queen has a different view. He says that this rule change will hurt the crop of talent in the PSAL and put more pressure on its coaches to keep kids in the program. It would be naive to think kids aren’t aware of their new option.

“I think it would weaken the PSAL and make the Catholic league stronger because a lot of kids would definitely take that transfer route if a Catholic school showed some interest in them,” Queen said.

The CHSAA coaches agree that no matter what the impact of the rule, it was something that needed to be changed with the state of Catholic schools.

“I don’t think Catholic schools are in the situation now where we can’t be turning people away,” Cardinal Hayes football coach C.J. O’Neil said. “We are all fighting to get kids in seats. Anything that kind of makes it a negative for a kid to come to your school is kind of illogical.”

More from Around NYC