Midtown: Sports

Cardinal Gibbons, NCHSAA differ on scholarships

Some interscholastic athletes at Cardinal Gibbons High have received financial assistance on a need basis in the past, but the school does not consider the aid to be athletic scholarships.

The N.C. High School Athletic Association is investigating to see if the aid is a violation of its rules.

Michael Fedewa, the superintendent of the diocese of Raleigh, said some students who received financial aid had participated on the school’s athletic teams but that the aid given to students had nothing to do with athletics. The assistance was on a need basis, he said.

“The financial aid is handled apart from the school,” Fedewa said. “When we met with Charlie Adams (then the executive director of the NCHSAA) before we entered the NCHSAA, he made it very clear that there were to be no athletic scholarships. We have known that from Day One. We don’t give athletic scholarships.”

Jason Curtis, the Gibbons principal, says students who receive scholarship assistance from the school are ineligible but that the local parish gives financial assistance to its parishioners.

“Whenever we select a student for an academic scholarship, we make it very clear that they will not be eligible for athletic participation,” Curtis said. “But assistance has been given on a need-basis by the parish. We’ve always abided by the NCHSAA requirements that there be no preferential treatment of athletes.

“We have handled financial aid the same way for years. The process has been very open.”

NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield said Wednesday that the school may not be in compliance with the rules on financial aid.

“To me, it is very clear,” Whitfield said. “If you receive financial aid, you are ineligible for athletics. The school may be in violation.

“In our conversations in the past, it has been stressed that athletes can’t get scholarships.”

Whitfield said the NCHSAA will investigate whether any rules were broken.

Gibbons is one of three non-boarding parochial schools that are members of the NCHSAA. The NCHSAA’s 390 member schools are voting this week to decide if the schools may remain in the association or if the association’s constitution will be changed to exclude them.

Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic and Kernersville McGuinness have agreed to abide by the general rules of the NCHSAA and also have agreed to additional restrictions: (a) students must have been in attendance for the two most recent semesters before being eligible for athletics; and (b) athletes shall not be given scholarships or other financial consideration.

Along with the ballot on the proposed constitution change, the NCHSAA this week spelled out that a student-athlete may not receive financial aid of any sort (academic, etc) and that receiving aid would make the student ineligible.

Tuition varies at the school, according to Fedewa, based on religious affiliation and other factors.

The NCHSAA is conducting the vote after six members of the association requested the constitution be amended to exclude all schools except free public schools.

The association’s constitution allows six member schools to call for a vote.