BOMBUILIE: Recruiting issues at high school level are complicated matter


Whenever the topic of recruiting in high school sports comes up, I first think of the case of Gus Felder.

Felder came to Berwick in 1996 after bouncing around from school to school in his native Philadelphia and spending some time at Red Rocks Job Corps in Columbia County.

It's impossible to judge intent without corroborating evidence, but Felder was a dominant 6-foot-5 left tackle and Berwick was probably the premier football program in the state. You do the math.

Felder went on to play on scholarship at Penn State and earned a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and a master's degree in educational leadership. He is now a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Georgia. He and his wife have five children.

If an administrator had done an investigation and ruled Felder ineligible in 1996, how would his life had been different? It's hard to imagine it would have been better.

Felder's case is not directly analogous to the current situation that has Berwick's football program shut down for two weeks, reportedly while school administrators investigate the circumstances of two students who transferred to the school from Nanticoke. No one is alleging the students who transferred are at-risk youth like Felder was.

But here's the point. The issue of recruiting in high school sports, whether in a case like Felder's or a case like the current one at Berwick, is a complicated one.

It must be policed by clear-headed adults who make a good-faith effort at balancing the best interests of the transferring students, their parents, both schools and high school sports as a whole.

It cannot be agenda-driven.

In this instance, it also must be very transparent, with the intentions of everyone involved made perfectly clear to the public.

If the purpose of this investigation is to prevent high school football from becoming a mini-NFL where free agents seek better deals every summer, that's great. It's a noble goal and it should be pursued.

If the purpose of this investigation is to find a tool, any tool, to force the legendary George Curry from his coaching position, it's a bad idea.

Curry is the winningest high school football coach in Pennsylvania history and the recent results of his teams have shown he still has something left on his fastball.

I don't see any good reason for Berwick to be looking for another football coach.

But this is a topic on which reasonable people may disagree.

Perhaps some think the venerable Curry can't keep up with the modern game or modern coaching tactics.

Perhaps some think a different coach could better serve the students of Berwick. Perhaps this investigation will unearth facts that prove it's time for him to move on.

But it's important for those who hold those beliefs to stand up and be counted. Don't use a recruiting investigation as cover to hide a different agenda.

The goal of any recruiting investigation is to discover the intent of the students who transferred. Knowing the intent of the investigators is just as important.