NCSS stops fall baseball from before it starts

COVINGTON — Fall baseball had been a way for players to have an opportunity build chemistry and figure out team dynamics without the head coach there to try to dictate his will. A lot of times booster club personnel would run the program since the head coach was not allowed to have contact with the team.

But after a closer look at the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) policy, fall baseball could be a thing of the past. Newton County has already taken steps stopping fall baseball from being played on their facilities.

“There were a couple of rules of the GHSA that applied to this specific situation. One of which is coaches being involved in suggesting, requiring or otherwise attempting to influence kids to participate in a sport outside of the designated season,” Newton County School System Student Services Supervisor Darren Berry said. “That was going on and that tarnished the whole situation.”

According to Section 2.69 of the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws, neither coaches, former coaches (including community coaches), nor any other school personnel shall suggest, require or otherwise attempt to influence students to participate in or practice for a sport outside the GHSA-designated season.

Another problem was created because some fall ball participants included eighth graders. Even though they are allowed to participate to play on the jv team team during the season since baseball is not offered at the middle school level, they cannot be invited to play fall ball.

Not only is that not allowed by the GHSA, coaches or other school personnel giving the names of any potential students violates NCSS policy.

“Concerns we had was that it was being offered to eighth-grade students which could set up a situation of undue influence because booster clubs aren’t privy to which students will go to which schools. For instance, an eighth grade kid plays Alcovy fall ball but they’re actually zoned for Eastside but they go to Alcovy because they really like the kids and the booster club people. That would be a situation that would violate rules because that could prove the booster club influencing a kid to go to a school they’re not suppose to go to,” Berry said. “There could be some issues there but the clearest violation is the entanglement of the booster clubs and the school personnel or coaches being involved in disseminating information even though they weren’t involved in coaching.”

Even though fall ball was conducted by the booster clubs, they did not pay for the use of facility which violates NCSS policy. Since fall ball cannot be endorsed by the school administration, they do not fall under the exemption rule for fees.

“If a booster club falls under an approved activity then they would fall under that exception,” Berry said. “But in a case like this they have a team, under these rules, we can’t give them the booster exception.”

So far, the parents that Berry have spoken to understand not allowing fall ball to continue the way it had in the past.

Despite all the issues being raised concerning fall baseball programs, fall ball is not a thing of the past. Parents can get together and have a fall ball team as long as it is done as a private entity.

“If parents want to do a travel team outside of school there’s no regulation against doing things like that privately. But the school cannot be associated with creating that team,” Berry said. “That’s the case be it baseball, another sport or even tutoring. The school cannot endorse one product over another because it could abuse the power the school system has and the captive audience we have. So a private entity would have to do their own advertising and recruiting without involving the school.

“The school can not be associated in any way in any kind of practice outside of the approved practice start dates by the GHSA website.”

Baseball practice cannot begin until Jan. 19, 2015.