Column: Open enrollment at the root of recruiting issues

Column: Open enrollment at the root of recruiting issues


Column: Open enrollment at the root of recruiting issues


Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

And that might be at the heart of the public vs. private schools debate, which as grown to a boiling point in Wisconsin.

Ever since the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association absorbed the former WISAA (Wisconsin Independent Schools Athletic Association), it’s been easy go online and find several forums that have at least one thread dedicated to the topic.

As a Pacelli graduate during the WISAA days, I have no dog in this fight — I’m just offering a different opinion on the matter.

It’s easy for communities to complain when they aren’t winning — it’s someone else’s fault that their son or daughter isn’t winning championships or getting into the playoffs. Look at the football landscape with conference realignment. Moving from conference to conference won’t make a program a winner.

Winning comes from hard work, sacrifice and building a program — more often than not — from the ground up. Winning doesn’t just happen; it’s earned.

An agenda item from the Six Rivers Conference at Wednesday’s WIAA annual meeting brought a record number of school representatives: A multiplier rule — by counting each private school student as 1.65, it would likely move a school like Assumption for instance up to Division 4 during the postseason. Playing in the Marawood Conference-South Division, the Royals girls basketball program would likely continue to do well in the postseason.

That might not be the case for all private schools.

On the gridiron, Assumption (167 students) and Newman Catholic (162) combined for six wins. Newman may have accounted for five of those, but moving either program up to Division 6 — they compete in D7 in the playoffs — would make it difficult for those schools to be competitive in football.

When Stratford won six straight Division 6 championships, the whining was minimal. Would there be a minimal outcry if Columbus Catholic accomplished the same feat in a sport?

The Six Rivers proposal was brought up for discussion, largely because of the “recruiting” that goes on at private schools. Yet, it’s highly unlikely that all private schools recruit and do so for the sole purpose of athletics.

For the record, Six Rivers schools went 6-7 against private schools this year in football and boys and girls basketball, with the Barneveld girls beating Assumption twice, including the Division 5 state championship.

Prior to the public-private merger, the private schools were very competitive on the playing field against their public school counterparts, but with separate state tournaments, there wasn’t a debate.

Since joining the WIAA during the 2000-01 school year, the private schools have had success, more in some sports than others. Boys basketball is the sport in which private schools have won the most titles with 23. Baseball is next with 16, followed by girls basketball and football with 15, softball with five and hockey with three.

Boys basketball and football are likely the biggest area of complaint with public schools, even though there hasn’t been a private Division 1 boys basketball champion and just one in football (Marquette in 2009).

The fact that there is hardly a peep about Germantown’s three straight Division 1 state basketball titles, yet people are up in arms that Dominican has accomplished the same feat in Division 4.

Being a public Milwaukee suburb, with no tuition, wouldn’t it be easy for a star basketball player to drive right through Menominee Falls to go to school? That move is legal because of open enrollment, which is the root of the recruiting problem.

The most simple solution of all might be to end open enrollment and make students attend school within their district map.

That would certainly curtail recruiting, both private and public.


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Column: Open enrollment at the root of recruiting issues

Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

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