A high school in Detroit has been suspended from the Detroit Catholic League for the 2016-17 school year for its refusal to participate in a crossover football game next season. Notre Dame Preparatory High School will be banned from playing against any Catholic League school in any sport, unless it is a state tournament game.
The ban was enacted after the school opted to leave the Catholic League rather than play a crossover football game in the upcoming season against Birmingham’s Brother Rice High School. According to Detroit Free Press Notre Dame Prep’s athletic director Betty Wroubel cited safety concerns as their reason for the refusal. Brother Rice is a Division 2 school and Notre Dame Prep is only a Division 4 school, a matchup administrators felt was unsafe for their players.
“We feel it’s a mismatch at this point in the game,’’ she said. “While our program is continually getting better, there’s just such a difference in the speed and the bigger, faster, stronger athletes. Can we sleep with ourselves at night if we’re knowingly putting our kids in a nonsafe environment?’’
This is the first time a full-time member of the league has been suspended. According to Catholic League director Vic Michaels, Notre Dame Prep said it was not willing to participate in the game against Birmingham and asked if the school could be excluded just from the football league for a year.
"After the superintendent denied their appeal they presented it to the board, requesting to not play football next year in the Catholic League and the board denied that request and per our regulations, which states that if a school doesn't accept a scheduled or league commitment as presented they are suspended for a minimum of a year for all sports at all levels, so really they chose to leave as opposed to playing Brother Rice,” Michaels went on to state.
Wroubel said school officials had hoped that the league would not take action until a committee to solve the scheduling problems could meet.
“We met with the school presidents twice this year to come up with this schedule, and everybody agreed except one,’’ Michaels said. “..They had discussed it in two separate meetings, and people knew what the consequences were going to be.’’
To combat the difficulty of scheduling nonconference football games, the Catholic League requires member schools to play at least one crossover game per season. Prep also would play a game against a school from the smaller Intersection I Division. This also raised safety concerns for the school.
“It’s not just the playing up, it’s the playing down, too,’’ said assistant AD Maureen Radulski. “It’s about not just our kids, it’s about all the kids. We would never go and do this to another program that they wanted us to go and play a crossover the other way.’’