If you’re among those looking forward to watching the Pembroke Academy boys’ basketball team compete against New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I competition next season, you may be disappointed.
Although the Spartans have successfully petitioned to move from Division II to Division I starting with the 2014-15 season, Division I schools have not welcomed Pembroke with open arms. In fact, Pembroke recently learned that it will not be included on next season’s Division I schedule.
That action stems from concerns about basketball players who have transferred to Pembroke, raising allegations of recruiting. Last December, the NHIAA ruled that two Pembroke players were ineligible, citing concerns that the players had transferred to the school after the 2012-13 school year primarily for athletics.
Such transfers are in violation of NHIAA By-Law Article II, Section 4, regarding transfer eligibility.
Tim Powers, president of the Division I Athletic Directors and Principals organization. said the group met with Pembroke officials last month to discuss concerns about the school’s handling of transfer student-athletes. He said the ADs and principals asked the school to submit a plan regarding the handling of its transfers and composition of future rosters.
“They submitted a plan, but we still had concerns and told them we were going to move forward with the schedule without them,” Powers, also the director of athletics at Derry’s Pinkerton Academy, said.
The Pembroke players who were ruled ineligible last season both played for the Granite State Raiders, a Concord-based AAU program run by Frank Alosa. Matt Alosa, Frank’s son, is Pembroke’s head coach and an assistant with the Granite State Raiders.
In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader last January, NHIAA executive director Pat Corbin said there were residency issues with both players whoe were ruled ineligible.
“In my judgment, there were other issues that did not make either of these an appropriate move,” Corbin said during that interview.
Matt Alosa has guided the Spartans to the last two Division II championships.
“In my opinion, it comes down to our coach, the coach’s father, the Granite State Raiders and the people who think they’re funneling players to our program,” said Pembroke headmaster Mike Reardon. “In the meeting, I said, ’Let me ask you: Given our situation, what would you do?’ I had an AD tell me, ’You need to fire Matt Alosa.’”
That, Reardon said, is not going to happen
“Matt is not only an outstanding basketball coach, Matt has conducted himself in exemplary fashion,” Reardon said. “Could something be going on that I’m not aware of? Absolutely. But we don’t have that information. We never have. If I had anything to act on, I would act on it instantaneously.”
Matt Alosa called the decision to not include Pembroke on the Division I schedule “unjust.”
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” he said. “I haven’t recruited anybody. I’ve done nothing but my best to help the kids of Pembroke.
“We were allowed to petition to Division I,” he continued. “I don’t understand why we aren’t being allowed to play in the league. We had two kids suspended. Other than that there hasn’t been one charge. Why the penalty still?
“This is unprecedented, but I can tell you Pembroke isn’t going to cancel the basketball season.”
Reardon said Pembroke tonight will conduct a closed-door meeting of school officials and parents of Pembroke basketball players.
Powers and Reardon said a return to Division II is not an option for Pembroke.
“I don’t know what their next step will be,” Powers said. “We just want to make sure we all abide by the same rules.”
As for Pembroke’s schedule next season, Reardon said although scheduling out-of-state games is a possibility, he would prefer it if Pembroke played against New Hampshire competition.
“I think the concerns are that Matt Alosa is the coach,” Reardon said. “If he’s gone, we’ll probably get a (Division I) schedule. If he stays, no schedule.
“I’m not going to terminate someone’s employment based on innuendo and rumor.”