Notre Dame Prep gets the boot, won’t be a member of the Detroit Catholic League for the 2016-17 season
Pontiac – Effective the 2016-17 school year Pontiac Notre Dame Prep will no longer be a member of the Detroit Catholic League.
N.D. Prep athletic director and coach Betty Wroubel confirmed on Tuesday that the co-educational school, one that sponsors 30 sports, was effectively kicked out of the league because it refused to play a football game against Birmingham Brother Rice this fall.
Vic Michaels, the director of athletics for the Detroit Catholic League, said he’s disappointed that Notre Dame Prep chose not to play the game.
“The bottom line is,” he said. “Our regulations state that if (a member school doesn’t) honor the league schedule you can be suspended for a year. It will be evaluated after next year, if they want to get back in.
“The process had to take its course. We met with presidents, principals and athletic directors of our schools months ago to find a solution to the football scheduling. We decided the Central Division teams would play one game against the AA. The AA would play one team from Intersectional 1 and Intersectional 1 would play one game against a team from Intersectional 2.”
Brother Rice is a member of the Central Division. All five schools in the Central Division are all-male Class A schools. Notre Dame Prep is a member of the AA Division. The smallest school, by enrollment, in the Central is Orchard lake St. Mary’s with approximately 516 students. The largest is Detroit Catholic Central with 1,069.
Notre Dame Prep, a Class B school with approximately 728 students, will complete its winter sports schedule as a league member and as well as those contests in the spring.
Wroubel said the school’s refusal to play Brother Rice was based solely on the issue of safety.
“I’m looking at the safety of the kids,” she said. “My job as an administrator is to put the (students) in the right position. I looked at our roster. We have kids who weigh 120 pounds playing tackle. (Brother Rice) has linemen who weigh 250 pounds. Even if they just fall on our guys they might get hurt.”
Wroubel is also the school’s varsity coach in volleyball and softball.
Since 2003 Notre Dame Prep has had moderate success in football. The Irish have made the state playoffs eight times and they won two playoff games during this time. Notre Dame Prep’s best season was in 2011 when it finished 10-1. Last season the Irish were 8-3 as they defeated Marysville, 54-13, in a Division 4 pre-district before losing to Richmond 17-15 in a district final.
Pat Fox just completed his second season as the program’s varsity head coach. Fox had previously coached at Milford, Ann Arbor Pioneer and Berkley.
Recently league officials have attempted to schedule crossover games between teams from the Central and the AA divisions. At that time administrators from AA member schools like Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, Detroit Loyola and Notre Dame Prep protested and refused. The other AA Division school is Dearborn Divine Child, which has played Central Division member U-D Jesuit each of the past three seasons.
This past season Loyola did agree to play two crossovers. Loyola lost to St. Mary’s 24-12 in the opener and then lost to De La Salle, 23-12, in the sixth week.
The last time Notre Dame Prep played a football game against a Central Division team was in 2008 when it lost to Detroit C.C., 42-0. That was the fourth of four consecutive season the two programs played each other. C.C. won 49-0 in ’07, 49-7 in ’06 and 42-24 in ’05.
“We can’t play these bigger schools,” Wroubel said. “My biggest worry and fear is safety and we have expressed this to the Catholic League. "I cannot put my kids at risk playing against the likes of Central Division teams, "I just can’t do it. If we have to play just eight games and forfeit we just might have to."
When asked about Loyola, a Class C school playing St Mary’s and De La Salle in closely contested games Wroubel said, "Loyola has the athletes to play a game or two a year against Central (Division) teams.”
Wroubel was noticeably upset during her telephone conversation and said that it is unlikely the school will pursue any legal actions.
“We’ve appealed about five times. I don’t want to hurt the Catholic League. I love it. I wish there was a solution. The coaching staff is devastated. I’m devastated and sick to my stomach.
”I’m in the state of total shock.”
Joe Cochran contributed to this report