To Keep Your Eligibility, Never Leave Your House

Corey Surrency is still in NCAA limbo, due to obscure rules designed to punish the least deserving of offenders. Well, let’s add the Iowa High School Athletic Association to the list of organizations deserving of our scorn.

Cody Gabella

Jim Gabella, coach of the minor league Burlington Bees, thought it would be a nice gesture to let his son Cody get a couple at-bats in an exhibition game. And it was nice. Everyone had fun, and their hearts were warmed. Except the IHSAA. They banned Cody Gabella from playing baseball for one season, effectively ending his high school career.

It must have been a thrill for a 16-year-old kid to play in a professional baseball game, albeit for a Class A Midwest League team, albeit in an exhibition game, and albeit against a local community college. So, you know, god forbid we let him enjoy it.

The rule, according to the IHSAA 2008-09 handbook, states, “A student is not eligible to participate in an interscholastic sport if the student has, in that same sport, participated in a contest with or against, or trained with, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), or other collegiate governing organization’s sanctioned team.

Here’s why the ruling is extra super retarded: the ban is on playing against college opponents. So if it had been a regular minor league game, it would have been completely within the rules.

“It’s definitely unfortunate,” said Notre Dame first-year coach Jeff Klein, who attended Tuesday’s exhibition game at Community Field. “I had no clue we were violating any state rule. If I did, I would have stopped it. To me it was just a nice father-son event. I thought it was great for Jim and Cody. I was proud to be able to watch it.

“What’s most unfortunate is that Cody is a great kid. He would do anything for anybody without asking for anything in return. It’s unfortunate for Cody and his family because they are the ones that are hurt the most by this.”

Notre Dame High School is appealing the ruling, and we can only hope the IHSAA will do the right thing. I”m not holding my breath.