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Commentary: Gorman competitive issue still lingers
by Dan Eckles
Jun 09, 2012 | 1188 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last March, the NIAA’s quarterly meeting drew plenty of interest as the state’s governing body for prep sports was taking up discussion on the membership status of traditional state athletic power Bishop Gorman.

Not much has changed in the following three months. There’s just been a lot of talk and not much chance for actionable change regarding the controversial private Catholic School in Las Vegas.

Public schools in Clark County and around the state have grown increasingly frustrated with Bishop Gorman’s prowess in football, boys basketball and baseball. Many critics of the Gaels’ athletic department believe the school has unfair advantages over its public-school counterparts, advantages that include everything from recruiting to offering financial aid.

That mounting angst against Gorman has led NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine to call for change, even asking Gorman officials to change their membership status and back out of playing for state championships. Obviously, that effort has not been popular in the camp of Bishop Gorman supporters.

Despite the difference in opinions, Gorman President John Kilduff said at the March NIAA meeting in Reno his school would be more than happy to supply committee members for an NIAA committee aimed at resolving competitive balance issues. However, when the NIAA’s Public School - Private School Committee Meeting took place last month at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Bishop Gorman representatives were nowhere to be found.

For all intents and purposes, the committee was formed and the meeting set to spur dialogue and talking points that could potentially bring resolution to a competitive balance issue between public schools and Bishop Gorman. Technically, the committee was to look at resolution for differences between public schools and all private schools. But make no bones about it, public school leaders aren’t fed up because they’re getting blown out in competitive venues, often state playoff affairs, by Bishop Manogue and Faith Lutheran, the state’s other two 4A private schools.

They are sick and tired of seeing Gorman win three of the last four state football titles, two of the last three state basketball titles and the last seven baseball titles, many of which featured lopsided state championship contests.

So how do you have a productive meeting to talk about change and resolution when the school many want to see go away, that agreed to be part of the committee, blows off the committee’s meeting?

“The most important intent of the committee was to generate dialogue by representatives from Clark County and Bishop Gorman as facilitated by the NIAA,” NIAA Assistant Director Donnie Nelson said last week. “To some degree, the dialogue did happen, but unfortunately, the committee was not attended by all parties, so the intended dialogue, in my opinion, did not happen.”

It was not a surprise that two committee seats reserved for Bishop Gorman sat empty. The school confirmed to the Las Vegas Review Journal through legal counsel the day before the May 2 meeting that it would not be “participating in a process that obviously has a predictable outcome.”

Why would Gorman want to take part in a committee aimed at improving competitive balance between public schools and private schools in the Silver State? The Gaels are currently kicking everyone’s fannies and enjoying doing so. School leaders don’t want change. They don’t want to lose more.

At the NIAA’s March meeting, the committee was charged with bringing back ideas for the group’s June 25-26 meeting. The agenda for that meeting lists a discussion item on the public school-private school issue. Given that it’s just a discussion item, no actionable change can take place.

Ultimately, Gorman is successful in keeping the status quo. The NIAA could possibly force a membership status change on Bishop Gorman, but you can bet the school would lawyer up and fight that to the end. And Gorman may have deeper resources to fight that fight than the NIAA.

I don’t know what’s going to come of this issue. Nelson admitted he didn’t even know what really to expect at the meeting later this month.

What I do know is Gorman will compete for state championships in the 2012-13 school year and likely embarrass a lot of opponents on its way to doing so. That’s sad. What’s best for one private school with deep pockets is not what’s best for the rest of the state.

Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at:

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