Burzichelli introduces bill to dismantle NJSIAA

New Jersey assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Salem) on Thursday night introduced a bill that will change high school sports in the state forever.

Burzichelli's bill, which was co-authored by assemby speaker Sheila Oliver, calls for oversight of high school sports to be stripped from the 92-year-old New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

"This has the potential to be a national model for the oversight of interscholastic sports," Burzichelli said of his controversial plan to dismantle the 92-year-old NJSIAA.

Burzichelli said Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) is co-author of an identical bill that will be dropped in the senate on Friday.

"Anybody that doesn't think this is serious needs to take a look at the names on the bill," Burzichelli said.

The bill calls for oversight of high school sports in New Jersey to be taken over by the Department of Education, which would then transfer day-to-day operations to the New Jersey School Boards Association.

For the bill be enacted, it must pass through the assembly and senate and then be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.

"We're marrying what we like about the NJSIAA with what's best about the School Boards Association," said Burzichelli, who has been an outspoken critic of the NJSIAA for around five years.

Burzichelli said the new organization could be called the Garden State Interscholastic Athletic Association. He said non-public schools would be invited to join along with public schools.

Burzichelli said the new organization would follow all the rules and regulations of the NJSIAA and would continue to offer the same tournaments in the same sports.

"The football field will still be 100 yards long," Burzichelli said. "The wrestling championships will still be in Atlantic City. But we'll have a better set-up, all the way around."

-- Phil Anastasia

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