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Bishop Sullivan suspended from TCIS for 3 years  July 1, 2017 – 08:59 am
Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School Profile | Virginia Beach

The Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools suspended Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School’s membership in the league for three years, effective this fall, saying it has questions about the athletic philosophy of the Virginia Beach school.

The suspension was approved by TCIS administrators Wednesday and announced Thursday. It comes a year after Bishop Sullivan left the TCIS in football with an eye toward elevating its program. Bishop Sullivan hired coach Chris Scott away from Ocean Lakes High, and began scheduling nationally prominent private schools.

Bishop Sullivan’s predecessor, Norfolk Catholic High School, was a charter member of the TCIS.

Bishop Sullivan released a joint statement from principal Dennis Price and the Rev. Dan Beeman, school chaplain and a priest at Norfolk’s Holy Trinity Church, saying TCIS officials have not presented them with evidence of wrongdoing or unethical behavior.

“Bishop Sullivan has not violated any conference or state regulations in any sport, ” said the statement. “The TCIS made the decision to suspend Bishop Sullivan . . . because they question our school’s ‘athletic philosophy.’

“No specific formal grievances have been provided by the conference.”

In an interview, Beeman said Bishop Sullivan officials were “blindsided” by the decision.

He said the suspension was proposed in an email to TCIS schools earlier this week, but Bishop Sullivan officials “were not included in that email.”

Norfolk Academy athletic director and TCIS president Aubrey Shinofield issued a brief statement announcing the suspension. When asked if the league had evidence of wrongdoing by Bishop Sullivan, she referred to the statement.

“We deeply respect the long term relationship the conference has had with Bishop Sullivan, but until we get a clearer picture of their philosophy and direction with regards to their athletics, we felt that we had to act, ” Shinofield said in the release.

In their statement, Price and Beeman indicated Bishop Sullivan was sanctioned last year after hiring Scott because the TCIS “found the hiring of coach Scott and the subsequent media coverage to be contrary to the image of the TCIS.”

One media outlet reported Bishop Sullivan was providing football scholarships . Beeman said the reports were untrue and that football players are granted financial aid based on need on the same basis as other students.

The sanction banned football players from competing in all other sports, said the statement from Bishop Sullivan. Price and Beeman said Bishop Sullivan “complied with the sanction completely.”

The Crusaders finished 7-3 in Scott’s first season while playing an ambitious schedule that included a 16-6 loss to nationally ranked IMG Academy of Florida before a near sellout crowd at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.

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The suspension continued a school year filled with change for Bishop Sullivan. Athletic director Richard Hine abruptly resigned in November and was replaced on an interim basis by assistant athletic director and assistant football coach John Hoggard.

Bishop Sullivan’s winter and spring sports teams will compete in the TCIS for the rest of this school year. TCIS schools are allowed to schedule games with Bishop Sullivan in any sport during the suspension, but those contests will not be recognized as conference games and the Crusaders are not eligible for league championships.

It is unknown how some Bishop Sullivan sports teams that don’t play at the same time as public schools, such as boys soccer, can piece together schedules unless TCIS schools agree to play them.

Shinofield said via email that Bishop Sullivan teams will be eligible for VISAA state championships as long as 50 percent of the regular-season schedule includes VISAA schools.

The league release said the “suspension will be reviewed annually starting in January of 2018, ” and Shinofield said the length of the suspension could change. But in an interview, she added the suspension for the 2017-18 school year won’t be reversed.

Nonetheless, Bishop Sullivan wants its non-football sports to return to the TCIS, saying in the release, “It is our desire to return as a member of the conference in the near future.

“It is important that our families and the wider community know that Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School has in no way behaved in an unethical manner with regard to our athletic department. More importantly, the philosophy and approach of Bishop Sullivan as a school and in our athletic department has been consistent.”


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