High School Basketball

Lexington Catholic ending athletics agreement with Fayette County schools

LexCath's Jaylen Jones looks for running room against Bryan Station at Lexington Catholic football stadium in Lexington, Ky., Friday, September 12, 2014. Photo by Matt Goins
LexCath's Jaylen Jones looks for running room against Bryan Station at Lexington Catholic football stadium in Lexington, Ky., Friday, September 12, 2014. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

Four years after Lexington Catholic and Fayette County's public schools came to an agreement that allowed them to schedule regular-season sports contests with each other, Lexington Catholic is ending its participation in the agreement.

"It's not an indictment of anybody or any school system, it's just that we feel after four years the agreement is flawed," Lexington Catholic president Steve Angelucci said. "The way it was written and agreed to, it impacted way too many kids."

When Lexington Catholic and Fayette County Public Schools came to the terms in February 2010, they were intended to better monitor and regulate the transfer of what Angelucci called "elite athletes" among the school systems.

Lexington Christian Academy also signed the agreement.

Before that, Lexington's public schools rarely scheduled Catholic in boys' basketball during the previous 20 years, or in any minor sports the previous decade.

Since the scheduling boycott ended, starting with the 2010-11 school year, there has been regular-season competition between the schools in almost all sports.

Angelucci said he met with Fayette County schools Superintendent Tom Shelton "looking to tweak" the agreement, "but we were unable to get to anything we were comfortable with."

In a notice posted on Lexington Catholic's website, Angelucci said Lexington Catholic "remains deeply committed to the original intention of the agreement. However, we have increasing concerns about the number of students affected ... and the ongoing challenge of communicating the agreement to families and students in a proper manner."

Don Adkins, who oversees athletics for Fayette County Public Schools, said Lexington Catholic's decision "caught us all off guard."

Adkins said Shelton was drafting the school district's response.

LCA Athletics Director Terry Johnson said the issue was discussed at a board meeting this week, but no action was taken. Johnson said LCA's athletic committee would "monitor the situation with the aim of coming back with a recommendation" in late November.

Angelucci doesn't want a return to a scheduling boycott: "I certainly hope that after four years of working together, not only in good faith, but also the letter of the new rules, there's been a level of trust and respect gained by all that keeps us playing."

Highlights of the agreement that has been in place the past four years include:

1. Eighth-grader "play up" rule: If a Fayette County-area student plays a high school varsity sport as an eighth-grader then transfers from a Fayette County public school to Lexington Catholic, or vice versa, as a freshman, he or she will be ineligible in all sports (practice or games) at all levels for one full year.

2. Fayette County high school transfers: Any high school student who transfers from a Fayette County public school to Lexington Catholic, or vice versa, after the first day of enrollment their freshman year, or subsequent years, will be ineligible for all sports (practice and games) for one full year. (Possible exceptions: extenuating personal, family or financial circumstances may be submitted to the Athletics Oversight Committee for review and decision.)

3. Eighth-grade "transfer" rule: Any entering freshman who has transferred after the eighth grade from a Fayette County public middle school to Lexington Catholic, or from a Fayette County Catholic elementary school to a Fayette County public high school, will not be eligible to play any sport at the varsity level during their freshman year. (Rule No. 1 will affect students who "played up.")

4. Fayette County High School Athletics Oversight Panel: A five-person panel will review and decide on transfer cases.

5. Guardian Letter of Acknowledgement: Legal guardians of all entering eighth-grade students and high school students who plan to participate in athletics at the high school level will be required to sign a letter acknowledging they are aware of the guidelines affecting their child's eligibility.

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