Friday, January 12, 2007

Lebo HS Pins Wrestler

Mt. Lebanon HS officials have succeeded where almost no one else in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could. They have kept Sam Brownlee from winning wrestling matches.

Sam Brownlee is a high school sophomore and a star wrestler. Until recently, he lived in Mt. Lebanon.

According to this morning's Post-Gazette, he and his family moved out of Mt. Lebanon and Sam transferred to Canon-McMillan. Lebo officials complained to the WPIAL that the move was related to "athletic intent," a no-no under WPIAL rules. The WPIAL agreed, as did the PIAA.

So the family has sued, in federal court, for the right to get Sam back on the mat.

From the article:

The Post-Gazette obtained a copy of a letter dated Nov. 3, 2006, from Mt. Lebanon athletic director John Grogan to WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. In it, Grogan wrote:

"I do not want in any way for this letter to be perceived as an attempt by our district to have Sam wrestle at Mt. Lebanon. The family has chosen to transfer and we accept his father's decision. However, we also feel that it is our responsibility, as part of the WPIAL, to inform you that we believe that his decision to transfer to Canon-McMillan was in part for athletic reasons.

"Our belief is that the decision to transfer to Canon-McMillan was in part for athletic reasons because of the following:

  • Past issues/disagreements with our wrestling program.

  • Decision to transfer to highly competitive wrestling program."

[The Brownlees' lawyer Brad Bassi] said he didn't agree with the notion that his client transferred for athletic intent. He also said Brownlee's father had inquired about some incidents with the Mt. Lebanon wrestling program while Sam was a member, but that neither the younger Brownlee or his father had a rift with any Mt. Lebanon coaches.

"The fact that the PIAA is depriving Sam the opportunity to wrestle is creating harm to him," Bassi said. "This is not about a young man wrestling. It is about providing him an activity, in this case wrestling, that complements his overall education at Canon-McMillan. Allowing Sam to wrestle motivates him in a lot of other areas of his life and not allowing him to do so could have the opposite affect."

Set aside the known flaws of WPIAL rules on "athletic intent." The text of the letter above doesn't sit well with me. If Mt. Lebanon HS really doesn't care whether Sam Brownlee wrestles at Mt. Lebanon, why is it trying to keep him from wrestling anywhere else in the WPIAL? Why not be classy -- and send a letter to the family that reads, "Thanks for your contributions to wrestling in Mt. Lebanon, and we wish you happiness with your family and success in Sam's athletic career"?
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11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Mt. Lebanon showed a lack of class in this situation. A decision like this can really affect a student. I do not believe that the athletic director considered what was in the best interest of this child.

January 14, 2007 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all starts with the athletic dictator...oops director. He pins his hired hands to do what he says, not what an accredited wrestling coach has to say. Most coaches want whatever is best for an athlete sharing the same passion as himself. Disappointed, maybe in not coaching a particular athlete, but happy that an individual shares the same passion. This athletic dictator is abusing his power at the hands of a 15 year old boy. Sounds to me this dictator has never pushed his body beyond the sofa. Gone are the early days of lebo when an athlete meant more. Their is a major league baseball player and an nfl lineman that i know of from lebo currently. Most residents don't even know this. There are many people in this area that believe in athletics, old school, old fashioned, whatever. The athletic dictator, at the tax payers cost, fought sam and his family all the way to federal court. I wonder what the price tag was for him to fight this battle with our money. I know I am disappointed with the ruling from the bush appointed district judge cercone. I hope Sam can rebound and come back even stronger next year.

January 19, 2007 10:22 PM  
Anonymous VASteve said...

If this transfer has nothing to do with wrestling and everything to do wih education and finances...then what is the big deal with him sitting out a year - or is it hard to imagine that one would move to Cannon Mac for a "better" education.

All the Lebo Administration did was notify the WPIAL of what was perceived as a transfer for athletic reasons...it is then up to the objective, ruling bodies to determine if this is the case. Nothing dicatatorial on the part of Mt. Lebanon - just making sure that the rules are followed...not a bad lesson for this kid to learn.

January 20, 2007 2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but, a kid can receive permission to transfer from the a.d. and superintendant or principal. I have seen it many times. At the time of sam's first(wpial)hearing 15 non lebo student-athletes were approved for transfer, only sam was denied and it was later detremined another young girl from lebo was denied. they both appealed to the state(piaa) and both were turned down. I believe only sam's family apealed to an even higher court.

vasteve said: All the Lebo Administration did was notify the WPIAL of what was perceived as a transfer for athletic reasons...

This is to naive in thinking thats all the lebo administration did. sorry, i'm not buying it. They know the kid and family. It would've been easier to sign off on his release and wish him well. The taxpayers would've then saved money considering administrators, teachers and coaches are taking days off bouncing from greentree to harrisburg and washington county and to downtown to prove their point in front of a judge who typically hears murder cases. This was reported as the first piaa case to be heard on a federal level.

vasteve said: Nothing dicatatorial on the part of Mt. Lebanon - just making sure that the rules are followed...

of course at great lengths to get a pin..oops win.

vasteve said: not a bad lesson for this kid to learn

I believe kids need to learn lessons, but the family fell on hard times financially and chose to move to washington county, i guess a fall from grace for most mt.lebonites, but certainly no need to punish a 15 year old child.
The father was quoted in the post-gazette as stating if we were to move for athletic intent we would've moved to Hempfield. Hempfield is 9-0 and ranked number 1. It just so happens that sam has accomplished far more than most in wrestling...what 5 jr. national titles and a super 32 title this past fall. Yeah your right, he moved to become a better wrestler than he already is, and the little boys who run the athletics at mt.lebanon were right in denying him his rights as an american to compete in athletics.

Whats next? How about a kid who transfers schools for similar cicumstances and was a member of the chess club. Would the activities department at lebo deny this student a chance at participating in chess at another school?

We are talking about a child and his/her future. I guess some people don't value the role athletics play in kids lives and find it more important to prove themselves and their agenda are justifiable. The parents certainly feel comfortable in having their child educated at Canon Mac. Who knows maybe the special education department could help the kid more than at mt. lebo. I guess the Canon Mac teachers know far less than those teachers at lebo and of course they teach the students differently. "See if this were mt. lebo I could teach this to you, but since you go to Canon Mac, I am forced to keep you from learning."

If anything, I think the administration is embarssed or even jealous in this case. They know wrestling was an important element in the development in the education process of this young boy's life. The family had issues and all of a sudden it's "athletic intent." bs.period.

January 20, 2007 6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous you have to be kidding me. How is anything you said factual... rational or even logical. It must be nice to sit behind a computer and make blanket statements that couldn't be further from the truth. First off 14 transfers were not approved. That statement is just inaccurate. Second, the wpial hearing is made up of a board of superintendants, adminstrators, and parents and is an independent body from the school system. When a district does not sign a release usually it is because ethically it is required to tell the truth as it believes. Basically you have given reasons why district officials should of lied. If they believe that a transfer was in part for athletic reason then it simply becomes the families responsiblity to show that it clearly was not. So if what you have stated in your nonsensical posts were true then that should of occured at the wpial hearing. But as you already know the wpial hearing found that there was reason to not approve of the transfer. I understand that plenty of testimony, questioning and such was given. Do you think maybe the reasons and facts didn't add up. Then the family had a right to appeal. And again another independent group of people from across the state found that there was no reason to believe the transfer was not athletic intent. Kind of makes you start to wonder if there might be more behind the scenes then you seem to comprehend. Then there was a court case and before a judge in federal court they also found to be no merit. So if this was simply about a district trying to do wrong by a kid. Maybe the blame lies elsewhere. As for early days of lebo? Are you saying that ethics and having a responsiblity to the rest of the wpial meant nothing? I am sorry but you seem misinformed and not very read on the facts. I am sure trinity high school, mcguffey, kiski, and various other schools would of really appreciated if canon mac would of added an athlete to their roster this year because mt. lebanon didn't follow the rules. The rules are the rules. If you don't like the transfer rule then your beef is with the wpial and piaa. But as for taking cheap shots at a district I think you are better off going back to school yourself. Usually its best to get your facts straight before you speak.

January 21, 2007 1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PIAA needs to show consistency. Sunseri gets to play for Central Catholic, but other athletes are not given the same chance.

Why can't families choose what is best for their child and the PIAA stay out of it?

I am so tired of the sports mentality in Mt. Lebanon. A family should have the right to send their child to any school and that child should be able to participate in any activity.

When did we stop looking at what is best for each individual child?

January 21, 2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever consider asking when did parents stop considering what is in the best interest for their kids?

January 21, 2007 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

okay. i checked and found out that I do have a college degree. I earned it whenever I completed my obligation to the university, who so generously paid my way with a football scholarship.


Anonymous said...
anonymous you have to be kidding me. How is anything you said factual...*(ok here we go) rational or even logical. It must be nice to sit behind a computer and make blanket statements that couldn't be further from the truth.*(how do you know?) First off 14 transfers were not approved. That statement is just inaccurate.*(I re-checked my facts, your right it was 13 kids that were allowed to transfer, who is your source?) Second, the wpial hearing is made up of a board of superintendants, adminstrators, and parents and is an independent body from the school system.*(to be independent is to be arbitrary. Everyone knows that there are probably friends of friends, cousins, aunts, uncles etc.etc. that make up the wpial board.) When a district does not sign a release usually it is because ethically it is required to tell the truth as it believes.*( so you agree that the district could have signed a release, but now you want to turn it into an ethics issue) Basically you have given reasons why district officials should of lied.*(district officials----now this is really important for you to understand----are you ready....the district did not prove sam's transfer was for athletic intent....they made a statement and anyone can do that. Did they take the stand in court and prove sam moved for athletic reasons?)If they believe*(they believed) that a transfer was in part for athletic reason then it simply becomes the families responsiblity to show that it clearly was not.*( umm, hello they did by supplying evidence that they fell financially on hard times...thats in the post-gazette and I did not need my college degree for that one) So if what you have stated in your nonsensical posts were true then that should of occured at the wpial hearing.*(which sam's didn't, but was ok for other kids in other districts to be approved) But as you already know the wpial hearing found that there was reason to not approve of the transfer.*(many cases do not make it past the wpial, and the ones that do get overturned by the piaa...sunseri, gronkowski( these kids are high profile) and many of the kids slide under the radar...meaning they get zero press coverage and their transfer goes smoothly) I understand that plenty of testimony, questioning and such was given. Do you think maybe the reasons and facts didn't add up.*(ohh everything adds up, and makes sense to this taxpayer.) Then the family had a right to appeal. And again another independent group of people from across the state found that there was no reason to believe the transfer was not athletic intent. Kind of makes you start to wonder if there might be more behind the scenes then you seem to comprehend.*(I comprehend the behind the scenes stuff really well and that is where your problem lies...you don't.) Then there was a court case and before a judge in federal court they also found to be no merit. So if this was simply about a district trying to do wrong by a kid.*(I believe its legalized child abuse) Maybe the blame lies elsewhere. As for early days of lebo?*(YEAH, the early days when the teams dominated with superior coaching and outstanding individual athletic performances...I could supply you with players and eras etc.All I was implying was that a kid is playing shortstop in the majors and a kid is playing line in the nfl and they are recent grads of lebo and that should be applauded. But, I guess it's taboo to believe that earning scholorships for athletic reasons is unacceptable, the gpa and s.a.t. are the only things that matter) Are you saying that ethics and having a responsiblity to the rest of the wpial meant nothing?*(what does this have to do with anything that a family is forced to move?) I am sorry but you seem misinformed and not very read on the facts.*(no no no no, you do, until you supply anything credible) I am sure trinity high school, mcguffey, kiski, and various other schools would of really appreciated if canon mac would of added an athlete to their roster this year because mt. lebanon didn't follow the rules.*(again you make zero sense. so the family should be imprisoned by mt. lebo officials because of a financial situation...) The rules are the rules.*( your implied brilliance is revolutionary...This is america, but you cannot move from mt. lebanon. where is this written?) If you don't like the transfer rule then your beef is with the wpial and piaa.*( my beef is here for all to read) But as for taking cheap shots at a district. I think you are better off going back to school yourself. Usually its best to get your facts straight before you speak.*(other districts sign off on kids, (FACT) and wish them well, why is lebo different in going to great lengths to punish the family?Remember, lebo never proved the family moved for athletic intent, no one from the district took the stand. The kid was convicted by a statement. re-read my posts they are riddled with facts. it seems your more interested in attacking me and that is fine because after all this is a blog and you are entitled to your opinion, please don't believe that your opinions mean more or that they should becomes laws of the land. Where does the A.D. of lebo reside? What if his son was forced to move? It comes down to SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT OF THE RULES, which is bs.period

January 21, 2007 5:45 PM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

I'm close to closing comments on this post; the personal jabs need to stop. Thanks.

January 21, 2007 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mt lebanon show that they have the money and resourses to get what they want and try and ruin a kid this is a real lack of class does every one know that Sams grades have improved since the transfer and by the way as the father of a wrestler i want to note here that I never did live in Mt lebanon BUT there wrestling coach kept on trying to get me to move there to have my son wrestle there so i guess since mmt lebanon has the power and money they can ruin a kid because of so big egos there so mt lebanon A D I hope you are happy in ruining a kid but I bet Sam will be back

February 13, 2007 5:37 PM  
Blogger Dozerman said...

This is truly as sad story for all involved. Sam may well never reach his true potential and therefore be relegated to wrestling at a second or third teer college where his coaching will be second class. Loosing an entire year at this time in his wrestling development can be extremely costly since most major wrestling colleges like OK St, Iowa, MN, etc start looking hard at Sophmore's to see if they are truly among the elite wrestlers. By the time he is a Junior he can be easily looked over. Can and often makes the difference between a scholarship to OK St or Pitt Johnstown. Sad story

October 30, 2007 4:07 PM  

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