Bishop England High School SC

Bishop England athletic director says High School League’s proposal to force private schools up a class ‘flawed’

A proposal that would force private schools such as Bishop England to play up a classification in the S.C. High School League is clearly flawed, Bishops athletic director Paul Runey said Wednesday.

The SCHSL, gathering in Myrtle Beach earlier this week for the S.C. Athletic Administrators Association meetings, approved the proposal to force private and charter schools to compete at a higher level than is mandated by the league’s method of classification by enrollment.

The poll of the state’s 32 regions resulted in a 29-3 vote to make private schools such as Bishop England, Christ Church, St. Joseph’s Catholic and Southside Christian to compete one classification higher than the individual school’s enrollment figures would dictate. The rule still needs to be approved by the SCHSL executive committee before going into effect.

Bishop England is currently classified as a Class AA school and would be forced to compete in AAA. The other three schools — all in Greenville County — would be bumped from Class A to AA. The proposal, should it stand, would take effect for the 2016-17 school year.

However, there could be legal challenges to the ruling, and the move may once again drag the state legislature into the fray.

“The process has a ways to go and clearly there are a lot of flaws in the proposal, ” said Runey, who also coaches Bishop England’s state champion girls basketball team.

“There are a lot of inconsistencies in this proposal and quite frankly, we do not feel this is fair.

“We had a coach from the upper state bring with him an opinion from the state’s attorney general that this proposal, based on the facts that he had, was unconstitutional. But the move is so strong, some people are not thinking it through. They rushed something through without fully understanding what is involved. It’s simply not fair.”

The major push to force the change came from the upper state and was more directed at the three private schools in Greenville, though Bishop England has been the target of criticism because of its success in athletics over the years.

Bishop England and Christ Church, in particular, have won dozens of state championships in various sports and opponents feel the private schools have a recruiting advantage. Runey scoffs at that assumption.

“Ask any school in Charleston if they have lost a major athlete to Bishop England after the ninth grade; it doesn’t happen, ” said Runey. “We very seldom get transfers to Bishop England after the ninth grade but we have lost some. You can count on one hand the number of big-time major college athletes that we have had here in the history of Bishop England, and we’ve had none in several years. I keep asking what advantage do we have over the other schools here and no one can give me an answer.

“Eighty to eighty-five percent of our student body lives within 10 miles of Bishop England High School and have come up through the Catholic school system. Look around the state and tell me how many schools can say that nearly all of their students come from within 10 miles. Almost every major county in South Carolina has school choice. There are many, many kids around the state participating in athletics at schools they are not zoned to attend, and its approved through their school districts.”

Runey points to his own basketball program, which captured its third state title in four years this season.

Interesting facts:

Norwell High School is a public secondary school, accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). It is located in Norwell, Massachusetts. The school includes approximately 50 full-time teachers. Its students consistently score above state...

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