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Warrior athletes denied hardship

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Independent School Association (AISA) athletic committee denied the appeal of Tuscaloosa Academy’s Athletic Director Mike Notaro regarding the hardship of three Warrior Academy student-athletes Wednesday.

“The board and myself met with Mr. Notaro along with three representatives of Warrior Academy Wednesday morning,” AISA Athletic Director Don Hand said. “And upon hearing both sides, we have decided not to grant hardship to any of the three students in question.”

“This wasn’t just about these three girls,” Notaro said. “From the beginning, my only concern has been for the students and their families. Today’s appeal was for any and all students at Warrior who have been caught up in this ping pong, back-and-forth process of not knowing what will happen to them.”

Though the appeal was denied, Notaro believes he and his staff at Tuscaloosa Academy did the right thing today and is certain that it has made a difference.

“What we did today was in the best interest of the students and their families,” Notaro said. “I felt we handled the situation very professionally. We had a good case and we pleaded it well. It’s a shame we didn’t win, but I’m proud to have been apart of it and I’m proud of these three girls for standing up themselves and others like them.”

Hand refused to comment as to why the decision to deny hardship was made, but did express his disappointment with the overall situation.

“I hate to see this kind of thing happen,” Hand said. “But it’s not the first time we’ve had to go through it, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.”

The student-athletes (all girls) played basketball, volleyball and softball at Warrior Academy in 2003. All three informed Notaro that they planned to transfer to TA this year and wished to play sports there.

But under AISA rules, if Warrior fields a varsity team in a sport any transfer student-athlete wishes to play, then none would be able to play that sport at TA or any other school without sitting out a full year.

Warrior Academy headmaster jimmy Barlow has made it abundantly clear that Warrior does plan to field varsity teams in boy’s and girl’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball this year.

But the school’s official decision has not been made clear to the AISA. Although AISA Athletic Director Don Hand said that he did expect to receive Warrior’s official plans for the up and coming school year shortly.

“I have talked with Mr. Barlow on a number of occasions concerning this issue,” hand said. “He has verbally notified this office of their decision to field varsity teams in boy’s and girl’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball, but we still have not received anything in writing. I do expect that decision to come in writing within the next week.”

“The letter has already been written and is waiting a final signature from our newly appointed board president, Mr. Mark Odom,” Barlow said.

According to Barlow, Odom was out of town on business on Wednesday, but would be returning today. And if all went according to plan, the AISA should have Warrior’s official statement in their possession no later than Friday.

Notaro said that there is another option that he could take concerning the matter, but he doesn’t believe it will come to that.

“The only other option is to appeal to the state board that oversees the athletic board. I don’t know if we are going to pursue that at this time.”

But Notaro did express that all three student-athletes that were represented in today’s appeal have enrolled at TA and all plan on attending, regardless of today’s outcome.