Gloucester Catholic High School 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 said 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 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. He included the commissioner's phone number, fax number, mailing address and email address.

The general membership of the NJSIAA on Dec. 7 voted to endorse the proposals by a 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 wrestling proposal would take effect for the 2016-17 season.

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

The football proposal would take effect in 2016.

All bylaw 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."

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 non-publics from publics in "all programs, including girls' sports."

@PhilAnastasia

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