Gilman announces that it won't play St. Frances after Panthers opt for independent football schedule

Gilman has become the final Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference team to announce that it will not play St. Frances this fall after St. Frances officials said Wednesday that they intend to play an independent national schedule.

Gilman co-athletic directors Lori Bristow and Russell Wrenn and headmaster Henry Smyth issued a joint statement Thursday announcing the decision.

“We wish the St. Frances players and coaches well as they build on the program’s and Coach [Biff] Poggi’s efforts to transform the lives of young men through a nationally competitive football program. We will not compete against St. Frances in football this fall,” the statement said.

Poggi announced his intentions to play a national schedule Wednesday, saying he had planned to do so in 2019, but since Mount Saint Joseph, Calvert Hall and McDonogh announced within the past week that they would not play St. Frances, he would move his plans up a year.

Shortly after he announced the independent schedule, Archbishop Spalding officials said they would not play the Panthers to help facilitate that schedule. At that point, Gilman had not made a decision.

Officials from Mount Saint Joseph, Calvert Hall and McDonogh cited safety among their primary concerns. The Panthers were ranked No. 4 in USA Today’s Super 25 after going 13-0 last season and running unbeaten through the A Conference for a second straight year.

St. Frances principal Dr. Curtis Turner initially told The Baltimore Sun last week that he felt the decisions to drop the Panthers were racially motivated. But Calvert Hall has since issued a release disputing racial motivations, and St. Frances issued a joint statement with Calvert Hall saying it understands safety was the main reason.

Loyola withdrew its football team from the MIAA in January, citing a disparity in the level of competition with the rest of the league. ​

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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