Woodstock Academy announced Tuesday it would be absorbing Putnam Science Academy’s heralded postgraduate boys basketball program just a month before PSA is scheduled to close.
The basketball program, which counts 6-foot-8 prospect Mamadou Diarra among its current 13 postgraduate players, will be operated as its own entity separate from the school’s CIAC varsity sports.
The team will participate in a variety of New England Prep school leagues. The rest of Woodstock Academy’s varsity undergraduate sports programs will continue to participate the CIAC.
The arrangement is unique among Connecticut high schools.
“It’s brand new,” CIAC executive director Dr. Steven Wysowski told The Norwich Bulletin’s Marc Allard. “You can’t make some of these things up. You have to credit some of these districts for their creativity. On the other hand, it causes another whole set of potential eligibility questions. It’s something we haven’t thought of before. I don’t mean to suggest that Woodstock is looking to do anything that would be in non-compliance, but there are issues out there that people will surmise. I think it merits watching so we keep our member schools out of harm’s way.”
PSA head coach Tom Espinosa will continue as the Woodstock postgraduate team’s boys basketball coach. The players will be housed in an on-campus dorm. The program will cost $150,000 to run.
In March, PSA announced it would be closing when classes complete in May.
Above: Putnam Science Academy basketball coach Tom Espinosa discusses his program’s move to Woodstock Academy at a press conference Tuesday, April 21 (via Norwich Bulletin).
“It’s a home run, a slam dunk,” Woodstock Academy athletic director Aaron Patterson told the Trustees, according to the Norwich Bulletin. “We‘re going to have big-time Division-I coaches on campus, players from Woodstock Academy signing Division-I scholarships and we will get to watch our players in the NCAA tournament and maybe even sign a pro contract. I can’t come up with anything bad about it.
Woodstock Academy, a regional public school which operates as a private institution much like Norwich Free Academy, won a Class L boys basketball championship in 2013. That varsity program will run separate from the postgraduate team.
Woodstock had been mulling over its future as a CIAC member. It was one of seven ECC schools which announced its intention to apply to the North-Central Connecticut Conference as the ECC founders as a league.
Another option, according to The Bulletin, was taking the entire school private like nearby Marianapolis Prep in the early 2000s.
“The discussion was to apply to the (North Central Connecticut Conference) or we go (private),” Headmaster Sandford told The Bulletin. “What the community settled on was that we are still a regional, public school in some people’s minds and we wanted to (apply) to the NCCC. But, the postgraduate thing was really intriguing to people and we should spend some time looking at it.”