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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
Bishop Sullivan Catholic on Monday won the right to compete for Virginia Independent Schools state championships in all sports except football.
However, officials from the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools said the Virginia Beach school will remain suspended from TCIS play, and ineligible for conference titles, at least until next school year.
The VISAA Executive Committee met Monday in Richmond to discuss Bishop Sullivan's request and voted to allow the Crusaders to compete, even though the school's teams are ineligible to compete for TCIS titles.
"Notwithstanding the fact that Bishop Sullivan is ineligible in the TCIS conference, VISAA will permit Bishop Sullivan's athletic teams (except football) to be eligible for VISAA state tournaments for the 2017-2018 school year as long as they meet all other VISAA eligibility requirements," Dick Kemper Jr., executive director for the VISAA, wrote in an email to The Pilot.
In an interview, Kemper said a school under suspension is ineligible for competing for state championships under VISAA bylaws.
"We made an exception based on a recommendation from the TCIS," he said. "Their schools asked us to allow them to play even though they've been suspended."
In order to be eligible for state tournaments, Bishop Sullivan's teams must schedule at least 50 percent of their contests against other VISAA teams, Kemper said.
Kemper said Bishop Sullivan officials indicated to him that its teams would meet that requirement.
Had VISAA officials not ruled in Bishop Sullivan's favor, it would have meant none of the school's teams could win team championships of any sort. It would have also meant that athletes who participate in sports with individual titles, including wrestling and track, would not have been eligible for a championship.
"Now we have the ultimate goal of playing for a state title," Bishop Sullivan boys basketball coach Rick Barbosa said. "That will be fun. There's a lot of good teams this year."
Bishop Sullivan, a charter member of the TCIS when the school was known as Norfolk Catholic, was suspended from the league for three years, effective this fall, over what the TCIS says are questions about the athletic philosophy of the Virginia Beach school.
The suspension was approved by TCIS administrators. That ruling came a year after Bishop Sullivan left the Tidewater Conference in football with an eye toward elevating its program.
Several phone calls to Bishop Sullivan athletic director Jon Hoggard were not returned .
Aubrey Shinofield, athletic director at Norfolk Academy and president of the TCIS, responded by text message to questions about Bishop Sullivan's status in the league.
"They are still under suspension from the conference with the first review in January," she said.
"If their conference status was to change, it would take effect in 2018-2019. "
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