Carroll asks citizens to help with final appeal to VHSL

Allen WorrellEditor

September 14, 2012

The Carroll County School Board and Carroll County athletic department is making one last-ditch effort to try to keep Franklin County out of the River Ridge District.

Carroll County’s second appeal to the Virginia High School League to keep Franklin out of the River Ridge was denied Sept. 11 during a hearing in Charlottesville attended by Carroll County High School Principal Chuck Thomson, Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship and Athletic Director Darrin Matthews.

As a result of the appeals being denied, the River Ridge District would include Carroll County, Pulaski County, Franklin County, Patrick Henry-Roanoke, Salem, Hidden Valley, Cave Spring, Blacksburg and Christiansburg if a new six classification system is approved.

Under the new format, in which 3A district members would not be required to play 6A schools, Carroll County as a 4A school would be the only district member required to play the district’s two 6A schools – Franklin County and PH-Roanoke.

Part of Carroll County’s appeal included a request to be placed into the smaller Mountain Empire District if Franklin were to enter the River Ridge. That motion died for a lack of a second during the VHSL hearing.

The last remaining hope for Carroll is a written challenge to a 23-member panel of the VHSL’s executive committee. The challenge was due Sept. 14 and will be heard Sept. 19.

During Carroll County’s School Board meeting Thursday, Thompson informed the school board of the last appeal to the VHSL’s Executive Committee. He asked school board members to log onto to find contact information for the VHSL’s Executive Committee and to plead Carroll County’s case to them.

“We still have a shot. As I told the Franklin County principal, it’s nothing personal, just based on travel,” Thompson said of the three-hour trip to Franklin.

Matthews said he had already talked to some of the members of the VHSL’s Executive Committee. Blankenship said he knew three personally that he’s already spoken with, and he knows one more he plans to contact.

Haynes then asked if it would be appropriate to send out an voicemail alert to Carroll citizens asking them to contact the committee. Matthews said he would also make an announcement on the high school’s athletic website.

“Let’s do that,” School Board Chairman Brian Spencer said.

After more discussion, the School Board made plans to send out a countywide call to citizens about the issue Friday evening.

During the school board’s August meeting, it passed a resolution stating that its athletic teams would not travel to Franklin County. That resolution caused quite a stir, Thompson said, as he pointed out possible effects of such an action.

First of all, Thompson said Carroll County could expect to forfeit any game in which it decided not to participate. In football, that would cause the Cavaliers to lose 14 points toward the playoffs it would have gained even by losing. Additionally, Carroll would lose accrued points for each game won by Franklin.

“So if we refuse to play Franklin, we get zero points, and it negates points we could continue to accrue. We want to get as many points as we can for the playoffs,” Thompson said. “Ideally we want to beat the teams we play and then we want them to go undefeated in their other games.”

Not playing Franklin County in other sports wouldn’t be as harmful to the postseason. Thompson said it was his understanding that a team gets seven points for each win, but points don’t accrue, so there is really not much incentive to play teams from higher classifications.

“But our basketball coaches want to play the teams in the River Ridge,” Thompson said.

Refusing to play Franklin would mean much more than just losing potential playoff points for football, Matthews said. Under the sportsmanship provision of the VHSL handbook, Carroll County could also be subject to fines, something the VHSL has being handing out more and more of recently, Matthews said.

Are they large fines, school board member Olen Gallimore asked? Matthews said the largest one he is aware of regionally was a recent fine of $350 handed down to Pulaski County. Additionally, Matthews said the VHSL could ban Carroll County from the postseason in other sports if it choose not to play Franklin County.

Thompson said he has spoken to the Franklin County administration about playing athletic events at neutral sites that would make travel easier on both teams. He said the school is amenable to doing that in all sports but football.

“They have big crowds on Friday nights and they don’t want to give that up,” Thompson said. “Another thing to consider about neutral sites, I’m not sure when you have to pay a third party to host a site how much it benefits you.”

Blankenship told the school board that Thompson did an excellent job presenting Carroll County’s case to the VHSL. He said Carroll got some support, but didn’t get enough votes (the appeal was denied by a 7-4 count).

“I was disappointed the Superintendent of Galax (Bill Sturgill) drove up and attended the meeting in Charlottesville to speak up against us playing in the Mountain Empire District,” School Board member Reginald Gardner said. “I don’t know the real purpose of that, but that didn’t help our case either.”

“It wasn’t very neighborly,” Spencer added.