By Phil Anastasia

Inquirer Staff Writer

Gloucester Catholic principal Ed Beckett on Friday sent an email blast to parents, alumni and friends of the school calling on them to petition the New Jersey Commissioner of Education to rule against two recent proposals that were passed by the NJSIAA.

Beckett says the proposals to separate athletes in non public schools from athletes in public schools in wrestling and football "would be disastrous for Catholic schools throughout the state . . . "

Beckett said in his email that Commissioner of Education David Hespe will issue his ruling on the two proposals on Dec. 28.

Beckett called on the recipients of his email to reach out to Hespe and urge him to rule against the proposals, including his phone number, fax number, mailing address and email address.

The NJSIAA general membership on Dec. 7 passed the proposals by more than two-thirds majority.

The wrestling proposal would separate non public athletes into four districts and one region. Those athletes would join public school athletes at the state championships in Atlantic City.

The football proposal was even more controversial as it would remove all non public schools from their existing league and place them in a state wide, non public football conference.

All by-law changes to the NJSIAA's constitution must be approved by the commissioner of education.

If Hespe rules in favor of the proposals, non public schools are expected to take legal action in an effort to prevent the separation.

Beckett said the "burden is especially heavy on South Jersey Catholic schools" because of the likelihood of increased travel that could lead to the "elimination of some programs in some schools."

The email also said the separation would "destroy long standing traditions of healthy competition that have benefitted generations of student athletes throughout the state and especially here in South Jersey."

Beckett said the New Jersey Catholic Conference and "all of the Bishops in New Jersey" petitioned Hespe on Wednesday to reject the proposals.

Beckett also said the "Bishops believe" the two proposals are the start of an effort to separate all programs, including girls' sports.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

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