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Archive for January 15, 2018

Jan. 15, 2018 — The co-op is dead in New Jersey (for now)

It has been reported today that outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has exercised his privilege of the pocket veto to kill a bill allowing schools within the same school district to form co-op teams in order to save athletic programs threatened by low enrollment.

The bill was amongst roughly 50 that Christie did not take action on before his term ends tomorrow at noon.

Given the amount of support the bill had in the last session of the New Jersey General Assembly and state Senate, I’ll be interested to see if the bill is reintroduced and passed for consideration by Governor-Elect Phil Murphy.

After all, the arguments on both sides will remain. Schools with historically low turnout for some sports will still be looking for bodies in order to fill roster slots.

But I believe the NJSIAA is going to have to come up with a better argument against the bill. The argument that the bill is going to bring up the era of “super teams” in New Jersey, I believe, does not hold water.

That’s because the state of New Jersey has been the home of a number of “super teams” which have operated within the rules of the NJSIAA for years. Mind you, there are a number of preparatory schools which have opted out of conventional interscholastic competition such as the wrestling team of Blairstown Blair Academy (N.J.), the swim teams of Hightstown Peddie School (N.J.), the boys’ ice hockey team from The Lawrenceville (N.J.) School, and the boys’ soccer team from Newark St. Benedict’s (N.J.). A pair of notable basketball superpowers, Elizabeth St. Patrick’s (N.J.) and Jersey City St. Anthony (N.J.) no longer play because their schools have closed.

Other teams, such as the boys’ lacrosse program at Mountain Lakes (N.J.) and the field hockey team at Voorhees Eastern (N.J.), have taken advantage of rules allowing school districts to admit non-resident students on a tuition basis, through policies adopted by local school boards.

These things are already happening, even without a law allowing co-op sports teams.