A letter from MIAA Board of Directors chairman and Case principal Brian McCann said, "The conduct of your swim program has been of concern to the Board for many months. We do appreciate your expressed willingness to address the issues raised by the Board, which you and the high school leadership seem to have embraced. Nonetheless, the sub-committee finds that the swim program presents patterns that require Association redress.
For example, it appears that MIAA championships earned by your teams over the years, if this past year is any indication, were achieved by a non school “club team” rather than an education based high school team."
According to MIAA rules, “Bona fide members of a school team are precluded from missing a high school practice or competition in order to participate in a non-school athletic activity/event in any sport recognized by the MIAA." The letter detailed the multiple days swimmers were allowed to miss Gardner High practices because they were participating in club activities.
"The 2012 roster you submitted following our meeting includes only one Gardner High School student who was not connected to the team through school choice, home schooling, or through a cooperating school. This is unusual. That roster also reflects that every member of your swim team (with one possible exception) was a member of the Greenwood Swim Club, another suggestion that your team was more reflective of a non-school club team than a school team.
"Over the months of inquiry, we learned that a home school student did participate at some point on your team, and was subsequently declared ineligible by Principal Pierce. We also learned that a choice student swimmer transferred from Gardner HS within hours of Principal Pierce informing the coach that he could not attend the upcoming state tournament.
"In light of the aforementioned, the sub-committee requires that all regular season competitions in which ineligible members competed (by virtue of bona-fide team violations, home school ineligibility, etc.) be forfeited. In addition, the MIAA team trophy presented in conjunction with the MIAA 2012 Sectional Tournament must be returned to the Association, and that championship forfeited (given that most of the participants were likely ineligible due to bona fide team rule violations). We respectfully request that the actions described above be completed before the beginning of the winter season (i.e. before November 26).
The sub-committee also places Gardner High School on MIAA probation for two years, during which time the school leadership needs to demonstrate to the MIAA Board of Directors better institutional control of the athletic program, and establish protocols that will ensure compliance with all local and Association policies. During this probationary period, Gardner will not be permitted to host any cooperative swim program, and is encouraged to foster sufficient interest within the school to sponsor an all Gardner HS team."
The letter was sent to Gardner Superintendent of Schools Carol Daring. Gardner had won 16 state swim titles under coach Don Lemieux, also the director of the Greenwood Swim Club. But after winning last winter's sectional title, Lemieux was told he couldn't attend the Division 1 state championship. He resigned and Monday's decision was the end result of a lengthy investigation by a sub-committee of the MIAA Board of Directors.
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