Carroll County High School juniors are currently not allowed to participate on a junior varsity team, but that could change as soon as winter sports teams begin practice this year.
Carroll County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Guthrie informed Board of Education members Wednesday that the school system is considering changing a rule that allows only freshmen and sophomores on junior varsity teams.
Guthrie said there was no specific situation that brought this topic to his attention. Rather, staff was looking at rules in other school districts and realized they were in the minority of not allowing juniors on junior varsity squads.
Carroll is one of five school districts in the state that does not allow juniors on junior varisty teams, according to Jim Rodriguez, supervisor of athletics.
Allegany, Baltimore and Howard counties, along with Baltimore City, also do not allow juniors on these teams, Rodriguez said.
The other 19 districts allow juniors on junior varsity squads, although some limit the number of juniors per team or have age restrictions on juniors on junior varsity teams, he said.
Rodriguez said Carroll is considering certain stipulations for juniors to play on a junior varsity team, such as age restrictions.
He added that if the rule is changed he doesn't believe the number of juniors on junior varsity teams will be large.
Benefits of allowing juniors on junior varsity teams include making these teams more competitive with out-of-county opponents, eliminating the possibility of not fielding a junior varsity team because of a lack of players, and helping juniors who play a particular position, such as a soccer goalie, to gain more playing time, Guthrie said.
The downside is that a junior could take the position away from a freshman or sophomore.
Guthrie does not need board approval to change the rule, but said he wanted to hear the members' thoughts before making his decision.
He said if the school system would decide to change the rule, which includes placing any additional stipulations on juniors on junior varsity squads, it would be done by the end of October.
Board member Jim Doolan this is a tough decision because it opens up the possibility of an older student taking the spot of a freshman or sophomore.
He added that he has no problem with juniors filling out a junior varsity squad if it is short on players.
Doolan said the philosophy in Carroll is, and should continue to be, that the varsity-level teams aim to win, but at the junior varsity level the philosophy is about playing and developing an athletes' skills.
"I don't want to lose sight of that either, as to what we stand for," Doolan said.