Something is rotten in the borough of Lansdale.

And it doesn't take a Shakespeare to realize who's been assigned which roles.

Of course, the heroes and villains in a Shakespearean tragedy aren't mutually exclusive. Sometimes, in fact, they reverse roles.

The saga surrounding Lansdale Catholic and its entrance into the Catholic League has produced an easy target, if not quite a villain.

In its bumbling of the move, the Lansdale Catholic administration redirected any good will it may have received from what it surely perceived to be a prescient judgment.

By forgoing serious discussion with coaches, parents and students and then neglecting to inform them as it "secretly" joined the Catholic League, the administration opened itself up for criticism.

To move forward on a decision that would impact the lives of so many in a tight-knit community without consulting the very people who are most involved was, quite simply, negligent.

The Rev. Joseph Maloney and Linda Robinson, Lansdale Catholic's principal and president, respectively, have taken their lumps, and rightfully so.

But it must be written that as the leaders of Lansdale Catholic, it is their right to say: "After much deliberation, we've taken into account the opinions of all parties, but as the bosses we've made our decision because we believe we are doing what's in the best interest of Lansdale Catholic's future."

If only they had expressed as much in a bumbling, one-hour news conference on Wednesday. If only they had listened.

Their critics, however, may say it wasn't just Maloney and Robinson. They may say that the entire administration, a relatively new one to Lansdale Catholic, has Catholic League ties and had eyes for the Catholic League for years. And they may say the administration doesn't have the foggiest idea what it will take to make the Crusaders, a small-enrollment school, consistent winners in the Catholic League.

The critics may say all these things and they may be right. They're probably right.

But their arguments against joining the Catholic League aren't 100 percent ironclad.

To use travel as a reason against joining is nit-picking at best, especially when the distances between Pioneer Athletic Conference schools and Catholic League schools aren't that much different.

Yes, a trip to Neumann-Goretti, West Catholic and Hallahan during Schuylkill rush hour isn't going to be pretty. But the other smaller-enrollment schools Lansdale Catholic most likely will be lumped in with - Archbishop Wood, Kennedy-Kenrick, Bishop McDevitt, Conwell-Egan, Archbishop Carroll and Cardinal Dougherty - are as close as, if not closer than, some PAC-10 schools.

Two of the main reasons the administration cited for joining were to align themselves with other Archdiocese of Philadelphia schools, thus enhancing their "Catholic identity," and increasing media coverage.

It's hard to dismiss the first motive. Isn't that a major reason parents send their children to Catholic schools? I'm sure that how the sports teams fare ranks far below academics and religion.

And media coverage surely will grow, now. Of course, the Crusaders could just as easily end up like Kennedy-Kenrick and McDevitt, two schools that have fallen on hard athletic times and don't get much newspaper ink.

And this goes hand-in-hand with the coaches' greatest argument - and it's a biggie: How can Lansdale Catholic compete when some of the league's other schools recruit players, a charge archdiocese officials deny?

The real tragedy, if you can call it that, is Jim Algeo.

Algeo, forever the Crusaders' football coach and the school's most visible face, is Lansdale Catholic's Joe Paterno.

So it gave pause to learn Algeo has decided to resign after the coming season because he's so decidedly against coaching in the Catholic League.

Then it was time to hit the stop button once it was revealed that Algeo wasn't even given the courtesy of being told a few days before that the move was a go.

Joe Denelsbeck, Lansdale Catholic's assistant principal for academics, raised more eyebrows when he said in response to a question about the treatment of the coach who led the Crusaders to a PIAA Class AA state title in 2004:

"I believe that the children who played for him won that state championship."

Wow!

Is that how this administration feels it should treat a man who has dedicated himself to Lansdale Catholic by teaching and coaching there for almost 40 years?

Obviously, there's no turning back on its decision. But if the administration - and maybe the archdiocese could get involved - attempted to right some of the wrongs it made and attempted to keep Algeo on board so he can eventually retire when he finds a fitting time. . . .

Who knows, maybe a championship isn't out of the realm of possibilities.

And maybe everyone can turn out to be heroes.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane

at 215-854-4745

or jmclane@phillynews.com.