High-quality athletes are transferring to top-flight athletic programs at an alarming rate.
To its credit, the NJSIAA is trying to rectify the situation.
Today, the NJSIAA will introduce a proposal that would deal with one of the issues in a long-simmering feud between public and parochial schools - athletes transferring for athletic advantage.
The proposal would extend the time a transfer must sit before competing at his or her new school. Currently, transfers must sit out 30 days, but the proposal would increase it to a year - and make those who transfer for athletic advantage think long and hard before switching schools.
Those who transfer the old-fashioned way - that is, they change residence with their parents or guardians - would not have to sit out.
Extending the waiting period is a great idea, one that would curtail transfers and improve relationships between parochial and public school members. (New Jersey transfers had to sit out a year until 1982, when the rule was unwisely changed to its current 30-day period.)
The NJSIAA also may hire an investigator to ensure the transfers meet residency requirements. In other words, they want to make sure athletes are living where they say they are.
"The issue has to be addressed because it's become a parochial/public school debate," said Tony Iaconelli, the St. Augustine athletic director. The proposed transfer change "isn't a perfect solution, but it's a way to deal with it," he added.
Make no mistake, there is a growing animosity between public and parochial schools. That became crystal clear when the NJSIAA's general membership narrowly defeated a proposal Monday that would have had separate leagues for parochial and public school teams in all sports. The vote was 186-178, with two abstentions.
Public schools despise the fact that the parochial schools have no boundaries in drawing student-athletes.
And in recent years, athletes have been transferring from public to parochial schools (and vice versa) at an alarming rate.
The new one-year rule, if adopted, would be a step in the right direction.
"The biggest concern for a lot of us is the burden of proof; it's difficult to prove that someone transferred for athletic advantage," Burlington City athletic director Bill DePonte said. If the one-year transfer rule went into effect, "it would put the burden of proof on the person transferring, and not the school. Anything to stem athletic-advantage recruiting is a good thing."
Even though he didn't play in Moorestown's 20-6 win over Long Branch in Sunday's Central Jersey Group 3 football championship, injured quarterback John Eller played an important role. Eller, a senior, was on the sideline encouraging the same teammates who rallied behind him after he suffered a lacerated kidney against Winslow Township on Oct. 20.
Moorestown was 6-0 with Eller, then won its final six games without him.
"We wouldn't have won it without Eller," said Bryan Burnham, Moorestown's outstanding wide receiver/defensive back. "He was the man. He was a huge inspiration. Seeing him on the sideline, you knew you had to give 100 percent because you never know when it can end."
Said senior Shane Collier, who divided time with junior A.J. Thomas as Eller's replacement: "When you see a family member go down, it's so much larger than football, and we wanted to lay it all out on the field for him."
Consider it done.
Nothing is official, but don't be surprised if Holy Cross coach Charlie Pirrello steps down and is replaced by defensive coordinator Tim McAneney, the former Bishop Eustace head coach.
Pirrello directed Holy Cross to the Non-Public Group 2 state title Saturday, a 17-0 conquest of Gloucester Catholic.