Coaches blast ISSA for Rodgers ruling
At least two prominent high school coaches have expressed disappointment at the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association's (ISSA) decision to allow Ari Rodgers of Kingston College (KC) to participate in the ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships later this month.
Rodgers, a Ugandan student-athlete who competes in long and middle distance races, joined KC in October last year, missing ISSA's registration deadline of September 30. However, ISSA has now cleared him after accepting that he had what is being described as "extenuating circumstances" for his late arrival in the island.
Michael Clarke, head coach of five-time defending boys' champions Calabar, describes ISSA's decision as a "frivolous" one and called into question the credibility of the organisation.
"Their (ISSA's) credibility will now be challenged seriously," Clarke said. "We're gonna be living in a very fragile environment in terms of public trust and public confidence. They have some damage control to do. Track and field, and sports in general, will suffer from the ineptitude of the persons who made the decision."
Clarke said that such a decision will only lead to more distrust from the public regarding how they govern their sports.
"It sets a dangerous and fragile precedent because it now opens the door for deliberations and litigious (legal) actions. Persons will now challenge their credibility, and I want to see them get out of this one. They don't want to appear weak, so they are going to take a very 'strong-arm' approach, which will make them even more at the disgust of the sporting public in Jamaica. It's a huge blunder."
Jamaica College's head coach Orville Brown agrees that ISSA made the wrong ruling
"It seems highly unusual now, after all the things that I have heard (about the registration issue), that a way has been found to create a reason to allow him (Rodgers) to compete," Brown said before arguing that if everyone cannot benefit from discretion, then there should not be any.
"My own thinking is if it is that a rule is established that affects all students participating in ISSA-approved sports, then I would really like to hear what the special circumstances are that would allow him (Rodgers) to be competing while others would not be given the opportunity.
"If it is that people identify and are able to negotiate loopholes, then ISSA would end up not managing the situation based on rules, but constantly managing the situations based on exceptions and discretion."
KC's head coach Neil Harrison declined to comment on the ruling, noting that he has no reason to, given ISSA had not, at that point, issued any official statements.
The Sunday Gleaner also sought an explanation from ISSA president Dr Walton Small and its competitions director, George Forbes, but numerous calls to their cell phones over the last two days went unanswered.
Meanwhile, KC's principal, Dave Myrie, was also unavailable.