I will make this clear before getting into this: I am extremely anti-MIAA. I cannot stand them. They are hypocritical people who pad their checkbooks but are so out of touch with reality that it is saddening. They are an organization that is built to serve student-athletes which continually screws over student-athletes. But other than that, I think they are great.
Now, I have been thinking about the MIAA recently because of their decision to ban all Gardner teams from the post-season this winter. The reason? Because the MIAA determined that "Gardner may have broken the MIAA's 'bona fide team' rule by allowing swimmers to skip school practices to attend club events."
Key phrase to note there is "may have." If we lived in a world where people could be prosecuted for things they "may have" done, then I probably would be writing this from behind bars.
This is a classic MIAA power play. Because of the actions of a specialized (this is not a shot at swimmers, but swimming is not a sport that is offered by every school) sport that involved roughly 15 student-athletes, the entire winter program of Gardner is being told their seasons are now worthless. Because I am sure that the boys' hockey coach and girls' basketball coaches at Gardner were aware of the transactions that "may have" happened with the girls swim team.
To put this in perspective, when the Penn State sanctions were handed down, the NCAA did not go after the field hockey, soccer or track teams.
So, in a situation where the MIAA could have brought a wrath down upon a program in which again, illegal things "may have" happened, what did they do? They lumped everyone in together and told them to pound sand. The actions of a few have now deemed the efforts of so many as mute and meaningless.
The MIAA puffed out their chests and told a number of student-athletes that they say they care about so much to go cry them a river. Classy move by a truly classy organization.
When Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke went to drop off the trophy that had been vacated by the MIAA due to the illegal transactions that "may have" occurred, Richard Neal, the MIAA's executive director happened to not be in the building. A coincidence, I am sure. I mean, a man who makes $234,301 (from the MIAA's tax form from 2011) surely would not be expected to be in the office at 10 a.m. on a Thursday. Now granted, Mr. Neal, maker of a cool $100.12 per hour (also on the tax form is estimates Mr. Neal works 45 hours a week for a total of 2,340 hours a year) could not meet with the mayor of the town he just crushed.
But luckily, Mr. Neal did have a comment before he scurried from the building as to not have to meet Mr. Hawke face to face to discuss the actions. The $234,301-per-year man stated that there was no chance of having the ban lifted. That the efforts of the mayor and superintendent were too little, too late and called Gardner officials' actions a blatant act of defiance. Again, these were actions that "may have" occurred, not definitely occurred but "may have" occurred.
Did Gardner create some of this issue for themselves? Absolutely. There may be truth to some of the rumors and some illegal actions "may have" occurred, but the reason the response now is so rapid is that the MIAA has gone after the whole school, not the guilty party. If a person commits a crime, does everyone in that person's family go to jail? In the world of the MIAA, the answer is yes.
This is why this organization is possibly the most poorly run in the state, because they don't live in the real world, just a bubble they have created in Franklin. They have no idea what they are doing and how it affects everyone, but they have a steadfast belief that their way is the only way and they do not care what anyone else thinks.
My hope in all this is that Gardner sues the MIAA. That seems to be the only way to get the MIAA to realize how far their heads are up their collective behinds. Let a judge or jury take a look at this and figure out just how out of whack this decision is. Somebody needs to stop the MIAA before it is too late because they are ruining lives on a daily basis.