As CIAC crowns champions, Public School vs. Private and ‘Choice’ School debate rages on

Public or Private or 'Choice?' East Catholic and Weaver, which battled for the Class L boys basketball title, are considered 'Schools of Choice,' but is their success overwhelming Public competition? (Photo Peter Paguaga)

Public or Private or ‘Choice?’ East Catholic and Weaver, which battled for the Class L boys basketball title, are considered ‘Schools of Choice,’ but is their success overwhelming Public competition? (Photo Peter Paguaga)

UNCASVILLE >> Capital Prep, a Hartford magnet school, cruised to its second girls basketball state title Saturday morning at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Not too long after that, East Catholic, a parochial school, followed suit on its way to a Class M state championship.

Meanwhile, an hour’s drive down 95-South, Fairfield Prep, another parochial school, was in the process of winnings its third Division I hockey championship in the last four years at Ingalls Rink.

In all, magnet and parochial schools won five of the 11 state titles on the line in basketball and hockey this past weekend.

That leads us back to the never-ending argument: should these schools be in a league of their own?

“They’re obviously never going to have a Catholic-magnet school division, so they have to be Class LL because they could get whoever they want,” said Weaver girls basketball coach Wendell Williams, whose team lost to Capital Prep in the Class L final. “Look at Capital Prep, and you can print this, if you have one kid living in Meriden, one kid from East Hartford, one kid from Manchester, one kid from Bloomfield, you should be Class LL.”

However, public schools have had an overwhelming edge in winning championships in the last 25 years.

Since 1990, public schools have won 64 boys basketball state titles. Parochial and magnet schools have won 36. In girls basketball, there have been 63 public school championships and 37 for parochial and magnet schools. And in boys hockey, there have been 37 championships for public schools and 22 for parochial schools.’

Due to new CIAC rules, Capital Prep, a school of choice, was bumped from Class S to Class L this season and still won a second straight title. Photo: Peter Paguaga

Due to new CIAC rules, Capital Prep, a school of choice, was bumped from Class S to Class L this season and still won a second straight title. Photo: Peter Paguaga

There are 185 schools involved in CIAC-sanctioned athletics. CIAC executive director Paul Hoey says about 35 percent of those schools are charter, magnet or parochial schools. But that number continues to grow.

Differentiating the public schools from the others is getting more and more difficult. School districts are increasingly offering Project Choice programs. Nonnewaug’s vocational agriculture program allows it to draw from out of district. The same goes for Ledyard.

“I feel like every school seems to be a school of choice these days,” said East Catholic boys basketball coach Luke Reilly, who guided the Eagles to their Class M title on Saturday. “It seems to me that all of these schools seem to have choices with different programs that are available. There are a lot of magnet schools. There are a lot of Catholic schools. I can certainly see why it’s a hot topic. The climate is changing. Every school seems to be a school of choice.”

The CIAC implemented the “success in tournament” rule this year, but only for basketball and soccer. Under the new rule, schools of choice — which include all schools that draw from outside of their district boundaries — which reach the state quarterfinals two out of three years move up one division.

Schools reaching the quarterfinals three straight years move up two divisions. With the new guidelines, 12 boys basketball teams, 10 girls basketball teams, one boys soccer team and six girls soccer teams moved up.

Some say private schools like, Fairfield Prep, which won its 16th Division I hockey title, and Lauralton Hall, which won its first Class L girls basketball title, have an unfair advantage in their ability to draw from any town. Others say many publics have programs that do the same with school programs open to a variety of out-of-town students. (Photos: Peter Casolino and Mara Lavitt)

Some say private schools like, Fairfield Prep, which won its 16th Division I hockey title, and Lauralton Hall, which won its first Class L girls basketball title, have an unfair advantage in their ability to draw from any town. Others say many publics have programs that do the same with school programs open to a variety of out-of-town students. (Photos: Peter Casolino and Mara Lavitt)

“There’s no question in my mind that it’s a fairer rule than it was before, rather than just doubling enrollment,” Hoey said. “Look at the girls’ tournament. Capital Prep would’ve been playing in the Class S tournament right now. It’s more equitable and created the ability of these true Class S schools to compete for a championship.”

Capital Prep coasted to a Class S championship in 2013, winning four games by an average of 54.5 points per game, before moving up two divisions to win Class L.

“There’s certainly an advantage for parochial, charters and magnets to draw kids from outside and there really should be a premium on that,” Hoey said.

Some argue that schools like Nonnewaug and Ledyard — “schools of choice” because of their vocational agriculture program — are suffering. The same goes for Weaver, which is a Class S school by enrollment but is now a “school of choice” because Culinary Arts Academy draws from out of district. The Weaver girls basketball team moved up to Class L because of the “school of choice” and “success in tournament” rules.

The Weaver boys moved up to Class M due to being a “school of choice.” The girls lost to Capital Prep (magnet) and the boys lost to East Catholic (parochial) in their respective finals last weekend.

On the flip side, Bridgeport Central, a public school, came from behind to knock off Fairfield Prep in the Class LL boys basketball final. Thomaston, a traditional Class S school, beat St. Paul, a parochial school, in the Class S girls final.

Bridgeport Central's boys basketball team (left) and Thomaston's girls were public schools that defeated private schools during the state championships (Photos Mara Lavitt and Peter Paguaga)

Bridgeport Central’s boys basketball team (left) and Thomaston’s girls were public schools that defeated private schools during the state championships (Photos Mara Lavitt and Peter Paguaga)

“That’s the hot topic and people are talking about it,” Lauralton Hall girls basketball coach Amanda Forcucci said. “I don’t know. I can see it both ways. But that’s why teams move up. We’ll play in the tougher division, and that’s fair.”

The Crusaders beat South Windsor, a public school, 68-53 on Saturday in the Class LL final for the first state championship in school history.

“It’s nice if the teams on the floor are on a level playing field,” South Windsor coach Don Leclerc said. “But if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

Over the last 10 years in boys basketball, there have been 30 public school champions in comparison to 10 parochial or magnet champs. Of the 40 girls basketball state championships, 23 have been won by public schools. In hockey, 19 of the 30 state championship banners hang in public school gyms.

East Haven hockey coach Lou Pane suggests creating a separate state tournament for parochial schools, and then three different divisions for the public schools. Currently, there are three divisions in hockey.

“There’s no doubt it’s been a long time coming that they need to be separated,” said Pane, whose team had five losses this season, all to parochial schools. “Look at the numbers in Division I. They have an unfair advantage. They can get kids from any other town. I think there should be a division for private schools come state tournament time.”

Pane pointed out that 19 of the last 25 Division I champions have been parochial schools. Of those, 12 have been Fairfield Prep.

Jesuits coach Matt Sather says there simply aren’t enough parochial schools for a tournament of their own. There are 11 that play hockey.

“When you look back, many more times than not, public schools are in the state championship games,” Sather said. “That tells me the system is working. You can make the argument that public schools have the advantage because they have youth hockey programs and rinks on campus. It works both ways.”

Mississippi, Texas and Virginia separate the private schools from the public. Making all the private schools play in the highest division or class is an option. Doubling their enrollment and the new “success in tournament” rule are others. Having one giant tournament for all schools in the state may sound far-fetched, but the possibilities are endless.

And so is the argument.


  1. Marcus Da Truth says

    The weaver coach Williams sounds like a sore loser! He was cool recruiting the girls from capital prep snoop and Edwards but since he got out ciac and look lost he give quotes like that! Wow. Man I’m going to be real. He [stinks] in my opinion. I don’t think he can coach is way out a paper bag with 3 sides missing. What he did on Saturday was just being a fan. He called no plays and left his girls to the wolves when they need him most!! Sad. How he get a job and make kids get worse then how they started. Yo he stinks!!! Fire that man!!

    • Quadry says

      The Weaver coach and Career girls coach sound like the same person. Neither understand the game, neither can coach talented HS girls. Both are better suited for JV.

  2. GO NOLES!! says

    It is ludicrous to lump the vo-ag schools with magnet and parochial schools. Students in the vo-ag program often have significant demands on their time after school, making it very difficult for them to participate in interscholastic sports.

    The vast majority of the athletes at schools like Nonnewaug, for example, come from the traditional high school population, which is of Class S size. These schools are unfairly punished and moved up classifications by the CIAC because of enrollment numbers inflated by vo-ag students, the vast majority of who do not participate in sports.

  3. JonnyBoy says

    As GO NOLES says, the vo-ag schools and choice schools don’t belong in the same category as parochial and magnet schools. The choice schools receive students by lottery, so they aren’t choosing students based on athletics and students aren’t going to the school because of a sport. Only younger siblings can choose to go to the same school as their older brothers and sisters.Vo-ag schools receive students who are interested in the AG program, not in the athletics. For example, in soccer, if you have over 25 students coming from another town you have to play up even if none of those students play the sport. This is inherently unfair.

    It’s fairly common knowledge amongst coaches that parochial schools recruit players specific to the sport. It’s called something else but it’s recruiting, plain and simple. Is Xavier football somehow randomly drawing outstanding football athletes every year? Is the ice at Fairfield Prep magical enough to generate perennial hockey champs? As far as magnet schools, I think most rational thinking people doubt that those students who excel at basketball choose to attend the school based on the academics.

    Don’t get me wrong, the CIAC is a good organization and it has the well-being of the student-athletes in mind. However, the real issue here is that they can’t and won’t enforce recruiting issues because it would cost them a lot of money. Each school pays a hefty sum to participate in the CIAC. In the interest of fairness, parochial schools should be banded together with the private prep schools and left to their own devices. At least the prep schools are honest about who they want at their school.

    Because the CIAC wants the cash income, they lay down these half-baked measures to push the better performing schools up in class, providing the illusion that they are promoting fair play. But it’s unfair play, most especially to small schools that establish a grassroots effort to build a culture in that sport without bringing in players from out of town.

    • Hchoopsfan says

      The idea that the parochial schools recruit is COMPLETE BS. I am so sick of hearing this crap. There are no scholarships for athletics either! Another bunch of bs. Kids /families choose to go because of many reasons, some may be because of a schools reputation in football, or baseball or hoops, or it may be because they like the religious aspect, or whatever, but please let’s junk this recruiting idea, it’s not true

  4. Jack says

    This “Prep recruits” nonsense has been going on since I was at Prep over 30 years ago. Why is it so difficult for people to accept that Prep has an outstanding hockey program? Ansonia has an outstanding football program. Hillhouse has an outstanding basketball program. Greenwich has an outstanding swimming program.

    • Joe says

      The reason Prep has a great hockey program is because you can take any kid you want,and the public schools can’t.How fair is that?You know make the kids who go to Prep who are from another town,go and play for their town they live in,regardless if they go to Prep or not.

    • John says

      You know what,if you wanna call yourself a Prep School,than go and play Prep schools then.Isn’t funny how when Prep plays teams of their caliber outside their state,95% of the time,they get their butts kicked.Here is a solution to this problem,make those schools play the same types of teams from other states.

  5. Jack says

    One more thing. When I played hockey at Prep, we had some tremendously talented players who could not handle the academic rigor and transferred to public schools, where they earned all-state honors. We also had kids who didn’t stay for 4 years because they wanted to try to improve their chances of a DI scholarship and transferred to Prep schools like Avon OF, Deerfield, Andover, etc.

  6. willie says

    This is a great hot potato topic for gametime to suggest. Good job. i m sure it will attract alot of comment.
    I dont see compelling evidence of an unfair catholic school advantage generally across ct high school sports based on the success/failure rate of these schools.
    The catholic schools have an advantage no doubt in a sense because students choose to attend these schools from a variety of towns. This is just the nature of the schools.
    At the same time, public schools have many advantages. For example, the public schools in the cities have an advantage in basketball because of the talent pool. The public schools in many wealthier and some other towns have obvious advantages in sports like hockey, swimming, football and lacrosse because of the youth programs of one kind or another, junior public high schools, coaches at the youth level, facilities (eg the ice at prep is definitely not magical jonny because there isnt any… have to hike 10-15 miles to the public rink in bport for that unlike in towns like darien, hamden, EH etc). And, of course, the greatest source of unfairness in high school sports is the difference in per student spending between the wealthy schools and the poorer ones (but we’ll let the ciac fix this problem next year).
    is this all unfair? well, life is unfair.
    And there are differences among all schools-public and catholic-that make some schools consistenly better in some sports than others eg winning tradition where success begets success, history, dedicated parents, coaches and fans, community support, emphasis on the sport, school environment, in many case tough league and non league scheduling, and many other factors. So, why is Hillhouse excellent in bball year in and year out? is it just because of the talent pool? why is greenwich dominant in swimming? just because of all those country clubs? and the great mystery: why are schools like ansonia, hand and new canaan always, or seemingly always, good in football? How are they “somehow randomly drawing outstanding football athletes every year” as jonny asks of Xavier? i assume it has something to do with these factors of winning tradition begetting success, history, dedication, tough scheduling in some cases and other factors. No one would consider these factors unfair.
    Could it be that the Catholic schools are sucessful in certain sports as a result of these sorts of factors eg success breeds success, history, dedication of coaches and others, the toughest scheduling, school environment etc that makes students want to go there (albeit from many towns) and play certain sports? and arent many of these factors what sports are meant to encourage? So, does one want to punish the schools for this? Now, i realize that this may be an uncomfortable position for some to accept because if this is the basis of success of the catholic schools and indeed many public schools in certain sports then the lack of certain of these factors is the basis of the lack of success of other schools. Well that is not fun to contemplate! Easier to take the view that Xavier is good in football and prep in hockey because they recruit. They dont have to recruit to be successful because students want to go there as a result of these factors. Or, one can simply turn the world on its head and say the existence of these factors is itself recruiting ie punish success..”it is called something else but it is recruiting”, which must be the only reason kids are choosing to go to the catholic schools rather than the public school in their town.
    Unlike say NJ, Conn does not have the density of population and catholic schools to support a cathoilc only league or tournaments.
    i would guess most public schools would like to play the best in any given sport.I can see that this is not true of the coach of East Haven. One dig i cannot resist here is while it is a correct factual staement that EH lost only 5 games all to parochial schools, it is true only because-correct me if i am wrong- EH did not play any of the best public schools in the state eg darien, new canaan, ridgefield etc. Could this reflect part of the issue with the EH program?
    all that said, i am all in favor of bumping schools up in class.
    but putting the catholic schools in a separate league and tournaments is not justified and would be a bad result for ct sports.

  7. Bob says

    it’s as simple as this – East Haven, West Haven, Hamden and the rest of the public schools have to stay within town boundries to get their players. Meanwhile Prep, NDF and NDWH can go anywhere they want (and they do) to get theirs. Considering the number of parochial schools in the state versus the number of championships they win it’s obvious that they have an advantage. Next year West Haven will dive into another Hockey season. They will again end up winning about 50% of their games even though the town is crazy for hockey. At the same time NDWH and Prep will win 90% of their games again. This is only possible because of their ability to go anywhere they want to get skaters. NDWH has been cherry picking West Haven skaters for years. When the talent is gone in WH they move on to Hamdan and East Haven to get the rest. So year after yeat the parochial schools are strong and the public schools tend to be weaker. Just look at the last 20 years, parochial schools have won 17 of 20 D1 hockey titles (85%) even though they make up 10% of the schools. The system is broken.

    • willie says

      so lets take this apart a bit bob.
      Is the point that catholic schools should not compete with public schools in the same league-tournament because students at catholic schools come from towns that have public schools? This seems to be your basic point. well, if this is your position, i dont agree with it, but at least it is coherent because of course students at catholic schools will by definition be from towns that have public schools. And it is true that any student who plays hockey at ndwh or prep is from a town that has a public a fortiori your position would seem to be they should not be playing public schools in hockey. This is at least a consistent position, although i disagree with it for the reasons i have stated in a prior post.
      Now, once we move past this basic position things get a bit less tenable. we start to get into “Now [the catholic schools} go anywhere they want to get theirs” and “this ie their success is only because of their ability to go anywhere and get skaters”. You dont really believe that. Do you? This is true in the sense above that students at catholic schools live in towns that have public schools. But it is untrue in the broader sense that these students ARE CHOOSING to go to the catholic schools, rather than the public school, FOR A REASON. They are doing this notwithstanding the cost to the parents and that the parents are paying taxes that support the public school. The catholic schools are not “getting” anything. The kids and their parents are making a choice.
      So, wouldnt the more interesting and honest question if you are WH, EH and Hamden and other schools be why would this be happening? Given all the built in advantages the public schools have eg town, youth programs, youth coaches, rinks, continuity, proximity, community, friends, family, residents crazy about hockey, why would a kid choose to go to a catholic school? could it have something to do with different factors eg the kid is catholic, went to parochial schools, better winning tradition at the catholic school, history built up over many years, better spirit, better environment, better prospects, tougher scheduling and more competitive play, academics and/or many other factors? Should the public schools work on these things? or just throw the catholic school out of the league so that while maybe kids will still go there but at least the public schools wont have to play against them.

      • John says

        What good is it to have a feeder program,if the kids are going to the catholic schools for high school anyway?

    • Jim says

      Just imagine if a public hockey school like Hamden, NC or Darien could simply add a couple of key forwards and a defenseman or two annually from across a boarder to be like Prep. It would result in Prep not making Finals almost every year. Too bad it is not allowed. Hmmm, what if these public schools accepted $15,000 per year form a star player in Norwalk or Fairfield to attend their school and play on their hockey team. Can’t do it! Prep “great program'”? I don’t think so. Great feeder system that has clearly fed on its own success. These schools get to field teams completely different than the teams they compete against in the CIAC. Prep et al also provide “financial need” funding, but not “scholarships.” Right?

  8. Ryan says

    Schools that can recruit should not be playing class S. There are many small schools that can’t recruit that get screwed because schools that can recruit from big towns get big time talent and then play in the S tournament.

  9. You win, you move up! says

    SPB’s breakdown of having all Catholic/private/magnet schools go into LL or L, with the 50% of them in LL & lower 50% in L, Tech schools go M & S the same way then just fill in the public schools is the most logical solution.
    There is no perfect system but to me no way a school like Sacred Heart should be S in boys basketball when a kid joins their school 2 days before the season and just happens to be a Top 20 recruit in his class for basketball! Or a few years ago when Ansonia played St. Joe’s in the Class M baseball quarters, how is that a level playing field when at every position St. Joe’s had a kid from a different town and all 9 starters from Ansonia lived in Ansonia. If you are a public school and have great success, you should move up too. Ansonia football should not be stuck in Class S every year either.
    My idea:
    1. Follow SPBs breakdown of schools of choice that I mentioned earlier
    2. Previous success-
    If you win a state title once in the past 2 years, you must move up 1 class.
    If you make back to back title games, you move up 1 class.
    If you make 3 straight semifinals, you move up 1 class.
    So as an example-
    **-Ansonia football for 2014 season would be Class LL, cause they meet all 3 of these.
    **-Sacred Heart boys basketball would be Class LL in 2014-15 season cause they would be L cause of the SPB rule & move up 1 class with the state title.
    **-St. Joe’s baseball would be LL this year because of their state title last year.
    **-Thomaston girls basketball would be Class L in 2014-15 season cause of title this year and back to back title appearances & if they didn’t make semis in 2014-15, then they would be Class M in 2015-16 cause of the title in the past 2 years and could be back in S in 2016-17.
    This isn’t perfect either but if the CIAC needs 4 classes, this will allow the schools who choose from 20+ towns & the most successful programs (public/private/charter/etc.) to compete for the Class LL title, which should be the #1 team in the state for that particular sport. It also allows small public schools to compete for a state title against a level playing field.
    Some sports don’t have enough teams, so you would have to look at hockey, track, etc. a little differently.
    I’m an NVL person so it is why I used teams I know or have seen over the past few years.

  10. Hot topic for what? says

    System is perfectly fine how it is. There are way too many schools with project choice programs etc. Magnet/private/catholic schools only get good athletes when they have good programs exactly like any public school program that is good year in and year out. People move across town lines alll the time to go to schools with better athletic programs/coaches. It is even across the board, as it clearly shows that public schools win more championships anyways (and not by a close margin either). One could argue there are advantages on both sides, in the end it all comes out in the wash. Great topic for a blog, shouldn’t even be on the radar for any CIAC meetings

  11. says

    Hockey is different as it is dominated by Italian and Irish(I don’t want to get in trouble) who are all Catholic. No other sport is really relevant..some suburban towns have girls travel basketball, soccer, softball who all go to one jr. high, all play together for 4 yrs before Hi school, who wear the Hi school colors in 5th grade up, who are coached by or observed by high school, and who’s parents are really bonded and travel together, vacation together, etc. That is a huge advantage for suburban towns..the JR high is a “free” feeder program. Most Catholic school freshmen are strangers to each other.

  12. Crocodile Devlin says

    If mom and dad have to pay for their child to go to a school then said school should not be in same league as public schools. It is an overwhelming advantage when Xavier can recruit on a billboard in West Hartford or Fairfield. To have a budget for recruiting and then play schools that have 150 boys total in their school is a very bad joke. Yet it plays out every day during the school year.

  13. Milford is a school of choice says

    little known fact about schools of choice. In MIlford you can fill out a form and go to Foran instead of Law if you live on the on Law side of town. Law has lost a lot of good kids to Foran the last few years. Now you could argue that they are leaving because Law wasn’t run well the past few years, but would those players have helped? since Foran is plucking the better football players from Law maybe guys like ACL should stop complaining about not making the playoffs since they lost to West Haven, Shelton and North Haven – all public schools. Hopefully Derrick Lewis can slow the process and bring some success to Law or maybe they will just be one high school before we know it anyway.

  14. ACL says

    My complaints about Foran not making the playoffs is not just about Foran. It is about all the D2 schools playing in the SCC, which includes Law and/or any other smaller schools who are forced to play the same type of schedule.

    You are correct about kids from Law’s district requesting to attend Foran and I agree that its a problem but Foran does not ‘pluck’ players (which is another way to say ‘recruit’ I am assuming). The original reason for allowing kids to choose where to go to HS in Milford was for hardship cases and/or programs being offered at one school and not the other. Since its inception, the process has turned into a joke and has been abused. By coincidence, the recent ‘success’ of the Foran football team (21-11 the last three years) mirrors the exodus from Law and its struggles with its football program.

    Having said all that, if there were that many kids attending Foran that should be going to Law, the student population at Foran would change so dramatically that they would be moved up a division. Instead, enrollment is down in both schools. Furthermore, that would mean that Foran would be dominating Law in every sport (since most of the kids you are talking about are multi-sport athletes) and that is not the case. Both schools have good baseball and softball teams, up and coming lacrosse teams, and very good wrestling teams. Both schools have struggled in basketball, soccer, and other sports. Point is, the struggles with the football program have more to do with its leadership in years’ past than it does the kids who choose to go to Foran.

    Regarding your comment regarding the ‘good kids’ Law has lost to Foran, I will respectfully disagree. While there have been a few, the biggest contributors to Foran’s success are from the Foran district. Last year’s team did not have one player starting on offense or defense that should have been playing for Law. Next season, there will be one on defense and one of offense. The point is, the core of the team are all kids that should be attending Foran.

    Additionally, Milford’s biggest problem is the amount of kids we lose every year to NDWH, NDF, St. Joe’s, and Prep. Off the top of my head, I can think of 8 kids that my son played Pop Warner with that should be attending Law or Foran right now that are all playing for one of those teams. One of the starters for Prep this year (and who will be attending Yale in the fall) is from Milford.

    As a Foran fan, I want to see Law succeed and wish Coach Lewis nothing but the best. I hope he can turn things around because it makes things much more fun for all involved when both teams are competitive. I have a lot of friends who coach and teach at Law and I know quite a few students so I don’t have an axe to grind. If the changes that are discussed here take affect, they benefit both schools.

    The bottom line is that the issue being discussed here is not about Milford. Its about the entire state and what is right for the majority of the schools who are members of the CIAC.

    • inerested parent says

      I think you mean “would” have been attending Law/Foran not “should”. Although Lasellete Seminary won the Class S basketball in 63(look it up) I think these schools need more than prospective priests and nuns to survive.

      • ACL says

        No, I meant ‘should’ based on my stance that the Milford BOE can do a better job educating families on the benefits of attending HS in Milford. That is another discussion for another day

        I have no idea what your point is regarding Lasellete Seminary. Care to explain?

        • inerested parent says

          a school of prospective priests actually won class s in 64. It goes without saying that people should go to the schools they choose. Unless you want Vatican City residents only in Catholic schools, they have to live in a town with public schools.

  15. PrioritiesPeople says

    Stop villianizing the Catholic Schools and Schools of Choice for having successful athletic programs. Sure good athletes from other towns may leave their public schools to go to a Catholic School, Magnate School, etc… but that is a choice the student and their parents are making. The schools are not actively recruiting athletes – they ARE actively recruiting kids who might want an alternative to the public school EDUCATION or ENVIRONMENT. In all the advertising I have seen and heard, the emphasis is on promoting their academic programs and the school environments – not once have I seen an ad focused on superior athletics.

    I have a child in a private School, my child is a good athlete on a successful team. This is frosting on the cake – and is not why my child attends private school. We selected the school because we like the religious aspect, the nurturing environment and the education. If my public school system offered a parallel education and environment I would happily save my money and send my child to public school – with absolutely no consideration of the athletic programs. In fact, there are many kids at these private schools and schools of choice who would have much more successful individual athletic careers at their public schools than at their private school. Kids who would be stars in their home towns wind up without much playing time at some of these private schools; in these cases, would you say they chose to attend private school DESPITE the athletic programs?

    Instead of complaining, perhaps the public schools should put some real effort into finding out why so many kids (ATHLETES and NON-ATHLETES) feel so compelled to leave the public school systems that families scrimp, save and sacrifice to come up with tuition. The vast majority of kids who leave the public school system are not elite athletes and do not leave for athletic purposes. Coaches and booster clubs often raise funds for uniforms or sporting equipment – maybe they should raise them for a few focus groups or surveys to get to the underlying issues.

    • ACL says

      @Priorities – That is exactly my point. My son is a member of a group of students that are doing just that. I have no problem with someone making that choice. There have been many times during my son’s time in HS that I wish we had the opportunity to give him a choice. The problem, in Milford anyway, is exactly what you stated, lack of information by the BOE.

    • Commenter says

      The comments from Catholic school parents are absolutely ridiculous. Anyone who follows HS sports knows it is a fact that kids are recruited. They don’t call it recruiting, but its the effect is the same. It is a choice. Remember, not only are private schools getting the best players, the public schools are losing theirs.

      You want real data? Find every kid that plays a sport that goes to a Catholic school when there is one closer. For example, see if there is a girl soccer player that goes to St Joes even though ND-Fairfield is closer. Or a hockey player that goes to Prep instead of St Pauls? Or see if one sibling goes to a Catholic school but a sibling that does’nt play sports doesn’t.

      I have seen it first hand. Kids go to the Catholic schools because they think they will get more exposure by being on a good team. Their local team is not that good. So they find a better one. The players know. Xavier for football. Prep for hockey. St joes for girls soccer. Mercy for girls basketball. Do you really think it’s statistically probable that the Mercy girls team makes the final four 5 years in a row? And they will be better next year.

      I don’t want the Catholic schools out of the CIAC. I don’t have a problem with it, really – just admit it. I like my kid being an underdog. But let’s face reality please.

  16. Dr. Von Nostran says

    The section on what constitues recruiting begins on page 59.

    Based on the quotation below, when a varsity coach visits a Pop Warner program and discusses how great the program is, where players from that program went to school, or that they have players in the NFL and other schools don’t, they are violating the recruiting policy.

    “No member school and no one acting on behalf of any member school may give any
    speech or give any slide, film or tape presentation or distribute any written material,
    including advertisements in newspapers, magazine or other publications, which states or
    implies that a member school’s athletic program is better than the athletic program of any
    other member school or that it would be more advantageous for any prospective studentathlete
    to participate in athletics at that member school as opposed to any other school.”

  17. Crocodile Devlin says

    Priorities you are lost. Catholic high schools are not PRIVATE schools. You sound a little arrogant about this. Ask any admissions counselor. There is a wink and a nod to all of this. Bottom line is these schools do not belong playing public schools. That’s why there are parochial school leagues all over the country.

    • willie says

      hmm..multiple choice test:
      Catholic schools should not play public schools because:
      a. kids from catholic schools live in towns that have public schools the kid chooes attend?
      b. parents pay money for kids to go to catholic schools in towns with public schools they choose not to have their kids attend? schools win too many championships in certain sports?
      d. cathoilc schools “pluck” and “steal” kids? (forget about the ciac, call the police)
      e. all of the above.

      Lets look at it another way.
      How successful would a catholic school be in a sport if
      1. you put the school in a town that was a hotbed of that sport.
      2. there was a natural feeder system of junior schools, youth programs, coaches, facilities in this town producing an unending stream of kids highly skilled in this sport.
      3. everyone of the kids coming out of the feeder system was LEGALLY REQUIRED to go to the school..provided that..
      4. the student and his or her parents did not choose to spend thousands of dollars for the privilege of having the kid travel often miles away from friends in town to go to a different school.
      5. this school was free as was the feeder system of schools, youth programs, coaches, facilities.
      6. all the shool had to do was be reasonably suucessful enough all around to capitalize on 1 to 5 and try to minimize 4?
      Apologies, this is an outlandish hypothetical and would be far too unfair.

  18. PrioritiesPeople says

    Crocodile – Catholic School, Private School, Magnate School – the fact is…the majority of kids who leave to go to these schools are not elite athletes. And If you think suggesting a public school might become informed, and perhaps consider some changes, by researching why so many of their students are leaving is arrogant I would disagree – it is smart, proactive and focused on improvement – a strategy that beats complaining any day.

    IF in CT there were enough schools, like in other states, to put these schools in their own league – then it might be worth considering – but there are not. And, I think you underestimate the better public school athletic programs – they are right up there with the Catholic, Magnate and Private School programs – as pointed out in the article.

  19. CT bball says

    Crocodile a few comments before your last you mentioned how it’s unfair for a school like xavier to play against a public school which holds only 160 boys? I’m pretty sure that never happens. Also we are saying it is wrong for these Catholic schools to play against these public schools because the Catholic schools get kids from towns all over CT? So basically your saying every kid who doesn’t go their hometown public high school is the best athlete among his age group? I think this is all a little over board, it’s not like these Catholic schools are dominating every single sport every year. Also I have been seeing a lot of comments about recruiting. Do not confuse Catholic/parochial schools with Prep (choate, taft, etc) schools. The Catholic/parochial schools are not allowed to recruit or offer full financial aide to any student whereas Prep schools are allowed to. I could totally understand this argument if Catholic schools were dominating and winning st championships each year in all 4 classes for boys and girls but the fact remains that they are not doing that.

    • You are wrong! says

      Catholic schools do recruit & give scholarships! Do you think the Heron kid at Sacred Heart paid tuition? If you think that then you may also believe in Santa! Sacred Heart stopped letting good players go to school for free, what happened, 3 years of bad hoops, this year state champs, playing in Class S, another joke! The best girl athlete from Ansonia in the class of 2015, who played 3 sports as a freshman at Ansonia High, just decided to go to St. Joe’s without any recruiting? St. Joe’s starting softball pitcher this year is a sophomore from Ansonia, does she pay to go? No! If she had to pay, she’d be at AHS, just like her brother was, who graduated in 2012 & played football. Get facts correct before you type! Choate, Taft, etc. can recruit all they want, they don’t play in the CIAC!!

      • hchoops says

        wrong. Total bs. catholic schools do not offer athletic scholarships! so sick of this crap, total BS. Thyey do offer financial aid. A kid chooses to go there, aid is offered if there is a need, it’s not based on athletic performance. Heron likely chose sh for any number of reasons, but whatever aid he may have recieved is available to non athletes as well. These are the facts! Kids have also left catholic schools because they didnt get aid or enough.

        • Commenter says

          It’s not about money every time – or even most of the time. The issue is certain Catholic programs that are good in one sport attract the best players. I went to a Catholic school. We had hardly any boys. We were a joke in football, basketball, and baseball. But in hockey, we were a powerhouse year after year. How? Word got out, and parents talked, coaches talked. Next thing you know, we have some great hockey players. But if it were fair, as some say, wouldn’t our other sports improve as well? Please be realistic here.

        • says

          As a former coach and a mother of four kids, I know for a fact that Catholic schools recruit…. my son’s two friends had “visits” from a school in Waterbury when they were in eighth grade and my daughter’s AAU coach convinced two players to transfer to his catholic HS after their freshmen year. None of them paid a cent to go these schools. I can’t count the number of players we lost from the public school to local catholic schools who supposedly didn’t recruit.

          • Coach Favor says

            Ok Former Coach! maybe the visits were public HS coaches and the AAU coach most likely isn’t involved with a private school. AAU coach are in it to make money, and as long as you are paying him/her, they will tell you anything.

      • PrioritiesPlease says

        Choate and Taft are NOT Catholic Schools. Catholic Schools in the CIAC are not allowed to recruit. Choate & Taft, being NON-CIAC Schools do not play public schools.

  20. a very proud parent says

    A great debate, lots of good points ,it should have started years ago. If you do not think the schools of choice have and advantage I believe you are wrong. It is a personal choice and there are many options out there. In girls basketball in connecticut you get recruited out of AAU not high school. Winning state championships was never a priority at our house the whole high school experience was. We stayed at RHAM for a number of reasons, basketball was not one of them but Sarah could have gone to Mercy, East Catholic or voag to Glastonbury. If Sarah had wanted to go to any of these schools do you think she would have helped their cause? maybe help put them over the top? and what would the effect have been on RHAM. How many girls at those three schools have gone on to play college ball at any level, alot, how many from RHAM, 0. If you add a D1 kid to a team that already has them it is a game changer. Capital prep is a great team for that very reason,they do not deservfe the critisim they get, they are playing by the rules, I think the rules have to be changed. The point is you empower the choice school while weaking the public school, someone one else made that point in an earlier thread. Every once in a while you get a great group that stays home, Newtown a few years ago and South Windsor (and I believe they lost one to loomis) this year but it is a rarity and they are both LL schools and only one of those won a state championship. Did Maria W. help Mercy’s success for 4 years, yes i think so, could she could have made the difference last year for RHAM, probably.

  21. JB says

    Listen, I know kids who have been recruited to Prep by a coach and offered “aid” to attend. Not a full ride, but real money. But the point isn’t money, the point is that these coaches are contacting kids and parents … often at AAU, Showcase events, etc. Also, they have “official visit” type events just like colleges do for recruits.

    So if that isn’t recruiting, what is it?

    By the way, ask David Coogins’ family what it was like to try to seperate him from his Sacred Heart commitment when the family couldn’t any longer afford the non-aid covered tuition? It was like being held to a contract … “pay it back” otherwise we won’t release your records. Shameful.

  22. VinyVerco says

    The CIAC is the culprit here- a clear money grab is the reason they pretend to enforce not recruiting. Prep hockey is the perfect example- how many roster spots are from Fairfield ? WE on the other hand take kids from the neighborhood, those kids that Prep and St Joe’s don’t poach under the guise of education.

    • Hshoopsfan says

      Vinny, did you ever consider that the KID WANTS to go to prep, rather than “prep poached” him? Thats the fact in almost all these cases, rather than being “recruited”, the kid chooses to go to a particular school

      • Willie says

        As I said, every kid in a catholic school lives in a town with a public school that that kid chose not to attend. And if you gave the catholic schools the advantages the public schools have eg free feeder of youth programs, coaches, town spirit, proximity, friends, facilities, free high school…then well …the catholic school would not lose at any major sport.

  23. Bob says

    Is it time somebody mentioned the Fairfield Prep basketball team which has gone to the LL finals 3 of the last 4 years, was 27-1 this season and lost a close game to Bridgeport Central in the finals? They were let this season by 7-1 center Paschal Chukwu (is he from Fairfield?) and along the way defeated Hillhouse twice and Wilbur Cross. How is Prep able to beat Cross and Hillhouse? I never realized how well those kids from Fairfield County played basketball.

    • New Haven Fan says

      Because they had a 7-1 human eraser that they stole from Trinity Catholic…. Paschal has been to 3 straight CIAC Championship games. Thats how much of an impact player he is. I bet you Prep will be done after this season. With Murphy going to W&M nest year.

      • Commenter says

        Wait a minute – Pascal went to a different Catholic school? Not a public school? And *then* he transferred? And it’s not about basketball? Come on. We all know what is going on.

        • Coach Favor says

          yes, Einstein! where have you been? transferred because TC coach wouldn’t move his brother up to varsity with him. that was one of the promises Leo made to their family.

          • Fat Mike says

            I think he understood the transfer situation. You don’t want to drop names here. Take a peek at the hockey discussion regarding ND of Fairfield.

          • Commenter says

            > because TC coach wouldn’t move his brother up to varsity with him.

            Oh Golly Gee. I guess you CAN transfer to a new private school because of a basketball issue. That is EXACTLY the point. FP coach makes a promise to a kid and all of a sudden he gets the best player in the state. This is a perfect example of how private schools “recruit”. Thanks for the example.

  24. says

    This topic in basketball circles is decades old, to the tune of at 30-40 decades. Will it be resolved, only when CIAC thinks outside the box.
    My solution is similar to New Jersey:
    All schools regardless of sector continue to play within the respective conferences and conference championships.
    At State Tournament, hold concurrent playoffs, one for private sector and one for public sector.
    Crown a champion in each class, S, M, L, LL for each sector.
    Add one more week to the season and have a private vs. public school playoff:
    Private Class S vs. Public Class S
    Private Class M vs. Public Class M
    Private Class L vs. Public Class L
    Private Class LL vs. Public LL
    In this format, there will be a TRUE Champion in each class.
    And why not, football in 2014 will crown 8 champions. (Small state does NOT need 8- state champions)
    But until something is done to finally bring this topic to a reasonable conclusion it will rage on for another 30-40 years.

    • Commenter says

      The private school playoff will be 4 teams at most. People will complain anyway. There’s nothing wrong with the system the way it is now. We would just like a little honesty from the private schools acknowledging what an advantage they have. That’s all.

      • Coach Favor says

        Honesty? sounds like a lil sour grapes from most likely a person that gets their rear end kicked in by catholic schools. So far, no one has been able to answer who has been recruited to a catholic school since gametime started last year, but plenty of hit and runs people like Commenter who will throw it out and then disappear as usually. Come on, have some gonads and state one player that was recruited. thanks for playing at least.

        • Coach Favor says

          and by the way, it seems the only proof someone had on recruitment was Arkeel to Ansonia, which is a public school. I also remember talking about Cochrane to Masuk? Both of these players benefitted from “transferring” to their new school and I don’t think anybody could argue with the results.

          2 public school transfers above, how about some private school recruits? Well, we are waiting Commenter.

        • Commenter says

          As many have stated several times, it is not always recruiting in the sense of college or prep school recruiting. It is often word of mouth, parents getting together at AAU/premier events, reputation of a team. Sometimes it is actual recruiting. If your kid has talent, and your local HS team is bad, you go to a private school. You deny this you are crazy.

          I don’t want to name names, but I personally know of several kids who go to a private school and one of the main reasons was the sports program. Even if its not the main reason, it’s still a reason, and that gives them a big advantage over the public schools.

          This isn’t debatable. They even steal from each other. Look at Sadie Edwards. Went to Mercy and then transferred to a powerhouse NY City Catholic school. You don’t think that was for basketball? Get serious please.

          • inerested parent says

            this is ridiculous. Milford school system esp in basketball gets kids that put in one year at St Joes, ND, etc and leave for whatever reason. They end up starting on Law or Foran even though they didnt or barely made the team at their old school. It goes both ways

  25. Mark says

    Great debate here. In a larger state like NJ, having separate public and non-public makes sense, but CT is just too small for that. It sounds like hockey might need it’s own system, but for basketball, I think the system in place right now close to what it needs to be. Maybe a compromise between what we had before and now. Maybe all non-publics get bumped up one class, and then the success factor can bump them up in addition to that. I also think that there should still be a success factor bump up for public schools as well, just grade it so that it is less common, just taking into account programs that are consistant powerhouses.

    One thing that I think should NOT be done is reacting too strongly to what happens in ONE year. There is certainly variation from one year to another. I think we are close to having a very good system now, it just needs some tweaking. Thanks for a great article to stir debate! It was a great winter season.

  26. jeb says

    Many years ago Rashmal Jones was recruted to play at Trinity Catholic high school even though he lived in Westchester county. They have an abundance of Catholic high Schools in Westchester yet he choose to ride a train every morning to Stamford where the high school coach would pick him up. In his sophomore year, Bob Hurley, the head coach of ST. Anthony of New Jersey contacted Jones and tried to persuade him to take his talents to St. Anthony’s. Jones remained at Trinity and had an excellent high school and college career at UCONN. If there is anybody out there who thinks that Jones paid one single cent on etiher tuition or travel you are fooling yourself. To parents who have children at a private school who are starting on the basketball team if you are not receiving a free education then you are the
    FOOL because the other players are.

    • Jebber says

      Huh, that’s all you can come up with? Many years ago? Nice try but no proof especially after the Fool comment. Again, offer some proof

    • Jebber says

      There are flaws in your post Jeb? Doesn’t sound like the TC coach would pick him up and he went to TC to play football

  27. says

    Hold on …. don’t paint the picture black with ANY school until you all get the facts straight. Public schools are not so innocent either. And if you believe they are they you are just as naïve as the next person. I’ve been around longer than most of you, maybe even all of you, as far back as the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, there’s been issues.
    Kids living in one PUBLIC school district but go to another public school in another district or even another town.
    The emergence of magnet schools has cause for concern. Academies are in existence.
    So stop the bantering about who is and who is not, who does and who does not, what one gets and what one does not.

    Settle it on the court because this debate will always be a topic of discussion for the next 100 years with NOTHING more than a lot of back and forth meaningless words.

    I wrote earlier a resolution as what should be done:

    At State Tournament, hold concurrent playoffs, one for private sector and one for public sector.
    Crown a champion in each class, S, M, L, LL for each sector.
    Add one more week to the season and have a private vs. public school playoff:
    Private Class S vs. Public Class S
    Private Class M vs. Public Class M
    Private Class L vs. Public Class L
    Private Class LL vs. Public LL

    In this format, there will be a TRUE Champion in each class.

    And as everything else in the world, it will be cyclical.

    What is lost in all of this, is the education of the student/athlete – promote grades, promote college degrees because this country is losing the battle when it comes to education because kids are more into XBOX etc.

    And in some cases, school is nothing more than a social gathering. EDUCATE than worry about the sport. If the sport leads to a degree, great but based on figures,:

    By comparison, the most difficult sport to turn professional in is basketball. Both men’s and women’s basketball place about 0.03% of all high school players into a professional basketball league, with most playing overseas in Europe. That means that out of every 333 high school basketball players, only one will turn professional and chances are that won’t be in the United States.

    Basketball parallels life.

    Even if high school athletes are unlikely to reach the professional ranks, an athletic scholarship can provide an excellent chance for a high quality education at little or no cost. Studies show that high school men’s hockey players have a very high success rate at playing in college. In part this is due to the lack of high school hockey programs in the United States. However, with 10.8% of high school hockey players earning a chance to play in college, the odds are nearly triple those of basketball.

    Overall, the numbers are quite staggering. In the six sports listed, there are approximately 854,200 high school senior athletes. Of those, approximately 44,000 or five percent will have roster spots waiting for them in college. Of those 44,000 student-athletes, only about 1,000 of them will get drafted into a professional sport, with 850 of those in either baseball or football.

    While an athletic career is certainly achievable for a privileged few, the harsh reality is 99.883% of high school athletes who participate in sports with major professional leagues, will have to find ways to make a living outside of sports. When you stop to consider the data, it becomes quite clear as to why the NCAA continues to stress the value of a college education. Yet, even those fortunate enough to turn professional can value from a strong education. Professional athletic careers are often short-lived, and the skills developed in a college curriculum can help former athletes succeed even after their playing days are over.

    • Fat Mike says

      Don’t agree it’s cyclical anymore. These last 10-15 years girls basketball has exploded. Rising costs of college tuition, AAU, these kids are going to the programs that will develop their skills, individually and team wise. Mercy, Lauralton, Capital, Career etc.are benefitting. Competition for athletic scholarships is fierce.

  28. Marcus Da Truth says

    The late AL Davis raiders said it best!!! If your not cheating your not trying to win!!! All schools recruit for different groups. Some basketball, football, soccer and even other actitives like dance. People we’re missing the main point. It’s all about coaching. With all these new magnet schools kids get sold on coaching and playing opportunity. If Cochran didn’t get caught again in Harding kids would naturally flock to Harding in Bridgeport just by the coach reputation. I’m not naive to the fact that education plays a fact and waived tuition as well but a kid and parent won’t go some place without some type of leadership structure. Crazy thing is we’re talking about this in highschool and teams do it in college. There’s no wrong answers just people’s opinions on this matter.

  29. vinnie says

    As much as I despise Lou Pane,he is right.Public Schools work hard to get where they are only to be beaten by catholic schools?And then these teams have the nerve to think they’re so great?How come Prep usually gets beat by Seton Hall Prep all the time?

  30. JON says

    Its not a debate, its fact.. Look at Prep, Xavier, St Joseph, NFA to name a few..I wish I could come up with 5 guys that are close to 300 lbs up front to go along with studs at RB/QB.. Public schools are lucky to get a 2 or 3 of these positions where there are studs every few YEARS, where private schools get them almost every year. This is for just football, not to mention Hockey and Basketball where you need 4 or 5 good players and your set. This is why many other states have separate playoffs which might be something needed in the future as we see these teams dominating in many sports. This is not to say they shouldnt play each other but when it comes to playoffs, separating might be a good option.

    • Jon Sr says

      Public schools can compete, just look at New Cannan, Greenwich, etc. Some towns just do not have the talent to compete, that is just a fact. If my son played Lax and was very talented, and I lived in watertown or even Waterbury, I wouldn’t think twice at transferring to a lax private school so he could have a chance at possibly playing in college. It doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be able to from one of those towns, but his chances are greater coming from a program that is known as a college hotbed. same goes for hockey, hoops and football.

      In CT, there just aren’t enough private schools of the same size to form there own league. They are here to stay so just live with it and do the best you can to compete.

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