While Harford Tech's girls lacrosse team prepared to play its first playoff game Friday without the guidance of suspended head coach Emma Little, questions remain about the team's decision not to play earlier this week in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference's championship game.
The Cobras, champions of the Susquehanna (lower) Division chose not to play Chesapeake (upper) Division champ C. Milton Wright because of what Tech team members believe is the lopsided nature of the divisions, which resulted in Little's suspension and the stripping of the Susquehanna Division title Tech won with a perfect 7-0 division record.
Will Tech's protest will make a difference? It may be a case of time will tell.
"Obviously anything that generates this much interest will be looked at in quite a bit of detail and it will be considered," UCBAC Commissioner Bob Slagle said Thursday. "There's no question about it, now, do I know what's going to happen? No, I don't."
Slagle is the only commissioner the UCBAC has had since the league was founded in 2003 to administer interscholastic athletics for the public schools in Harford and Cecil counties. The first UCBAC championship games were played in 2004, at the conclusion of the 2003-04 winter season. Aberdeen, the upper division champions, won both boys and girls basketball titles.
"I do know that we have discussed this in the past," Slagle said, referring to the structure of the championship game.
A survey was conducted some two or three years ago, according to Slagle. He couldn't verify the exact numbers but recalls the vote being something like 50-something to 40-something, in favor of the championship game's current structure.
"Would I say that there's a change? There's certainly always going to be the possibility of a change," Slagle said. "We have changed several things since the conference began. We have had numerous requests for other changes that the board of control has decided was not in the best interest of all the schools in the conference."
The UCBAC's nine person Board of Control has standing members: commissioner Slagle; Ken Zorbach, Harford County's Public Schools supervisor of high school physical education and athletics, curriculum, instruction and assessment; and Chris Hersl, Cecil County Public Schools supervisor of physical education and athletics. The remaining members include two athletic directors, two coaches and two administrators, one from each county.
"Every year our board of control has discussions about, I guess you could say, realigning," Zorbach said, noting that proposals have been made to change what's in place into three divisions. "We've discussed numerous things and every time we discuss it, there seems to be more negatives than positives, to go to a different scenario. That's pretty much why we've kept it the way it is, cause we really haven't come up with a better solution."
So, will Tech's concern reach the board of control?
"Like with anything where the members, whether they be the coaches, the ADs, the principals or anyone, who sends us concerns or things like that. They will be discussed first probably at a joint ADs meeting," Slagle said. The next athletic directors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
"We always go that way cause they're important people in there, too," Slagle added. "Eventually, it will go to board of control, which we look at every concern that's presented to us."
Slagle noted that concerns are raised quite regularly.
"We've even had people come in and present their positions and we'll discuss it and then we'll determine, based on whatever the board of control votes, that's the direction we'll go at that particular point," he said.
"Any concern of any kind from any of the groups that are in the conference, from the coaches, ADs, administrations, we're going to listen to them and we're going to consider and then the board of control will make a decision on what our policy will be at that point."
Slagle, who coached many years in Harford County and guided Edgewood to a boys basketball state title in 1997, declined to offer a personal opinion on the issue touched off by the Harford Tech protest.
"All I will say is, I act on behalf of the board of control, I do whatever. Obviously, I have my own input I can put in. Decisions are made by board of control and then I'm the one that presents them and enforces them and does the various things I'm supposed to do at that point," Slagle said. "Any time there's an issue, it will be brought up and it will be discussed. The board of control is in charge, that's what their job is, we'll make a decision and we will go from that."