Boston High School: Richard Pearson

Pearson: MIAA criticism 'very far from the truth'

June, 7, 2014
LOWELL, Mass. -- Following Saturday’s Division 1 North semifinal game between Chelmsford and Methuen, MIAA associate executive director Richard Pearson sat down with to discuss the controversy of a potential forfeit leading up to the game, how the association handles scheduling conflicts, and courses of action that member schools can take to avoid future conflicts with The College Board SAT. Pearson was named associate executive director of the MIAA in February 2012 after stints as the assistant principal at Foxboro High School and principal at Medway High School.

Q: Did the MIAA have conversations with Chelmsford and Methuen leading up to Saturday’s game, especially given their original threat to forfeit because of SAT’s?

Pearson: "We had contact and discussion with both the schools in the last couple days, they both expressed challenges with the SAT’s and challenges with graduation (Note: Methuen graduation was held Friday night while Chelmsford graduation was held Saturday afternoon. The game was supposed to be played on Thursday, but was rained out). The basic reason for our decision, which some people may not know, is that there are four games that need to take place: sectional semi, sectional final, Eastern Mass. final, and then the state championship. In looking at the whole dynamic and all the games that needed to be played, playing those four games starting on Sunday, we thought, was an extraordinary challenge for the tournament – and could possibly jeopardize the tournament if rain came in and we wound up having to play back-to-back games.

"We’re very aware of SAT’s across the commonwealth, in all seasons, in all sports, in all the first weekends of the month...including Gillette Stadium on the first weekend of December and including the first weekend of November where we had the first round of the football we all know that this is very evident. That being said, one of the things that the association has said is what we have on our website published: General Tournament Information. It’s in our tournament format pages, and it’s in all our seasons where we have general information. This general information is backbone for all the different formats in all the different sports that are out there. Every season it’s published that everyone has to be aware of The College Board Test. We try to help schools do that and we try to inform them on that."

At this point I’m sure you’re well aware of the criticism the MIAA has been facing by playing the D1 North semifinal today. What is your response to those who would suggest that the decision forces kids to make the choice between being a student or being an athlete?

"I have heard that criticism as well. I would say that’s very far from the truth. A core foundation of our organization, as everyone has printed out and kind of published and tried to throw back at us a little bit is ‘educational athletics and supporting the whole student.’ With that said, our association has also asked us to hold tournaments at the end of each season for approximately a two and a half or three week period so that other seasons can start and other things can happen. I would say this: we are very aware of educational athletics and I think that many our athletic directors are aware of conflicts. Many athletic directors try to warn students about potential conflicts with SAT’s and The College Board.

"This is about a dialogue with students, and we hope that information gets out. It’s not that we’re trying to cause some major conflict, The College Board schedule is their own, our association and member schools want us to run a two or three week tournament for kids and give them the best options – those two things may run into each other a little bit.

"We’ve got LeLacheur Park for four games [Saturday] at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m., so with that we are able to try to accommodate major challenges and conflicts whenever that’s possible –- so that’s what we’re available for. We try to get great venues and great opportunities for kids. We have six or seven total events today across the state today that might have started in the morning or come close to SAT’s. When I add the athletes up, it could be 500 or more athletes –- all with different challenges.

"I certainly wouldn’t want students to think they have to forfeit something that they have an opportunity to do. What I hope happened today is that two teams showed up and played a great game, Chelmsford was able to leave the park at ten minutes of one for a 4 p.m. graduation that’s right next door at the Tsongas Center. I hope that they’ll have plenty of time for that, and I hope Methuen was able to put their best foot forward even though some students were unable to prepare for the SAT conflict."

Were discussions had between the MIAA and Methuen and Chelmsford about potentially playing a doubleheader on Sunday, with the semifinal played first and the Division 1 North final played right after?

"I’m not sure I can recall if any of the A.D’s and the superintendents actually said that, but it may have been a possibility. We felt that even though the SAT’s were there, we thought that our membership was prepared and understood that this is a conflict that does happen. We also kind of felt that, as has just been indicated, that this game could be finished in a timely fashion.

"I also think it is important for us as an association to show our students in the best possible light. We now have this beautiful opportunity to play four games at LeLacheur Park with some of the best athletes in the state of Massachusetts. Why not showcase it if we can pull it off? Outside of the SAT conflict, which I certainly am not trivializing, we were able to do that for the kids.

"I think that’s what our schools are doing, and I hope that communication keeps going out and many of our schools are giving their very best to communicate that. We’ve been doing this for many years, The College Board has been around for many, many years, and I would venture that there have been many schools that would either have to inform their students early or have run into this challenge."

Could you explain the process behind planning the tournaments and how scheduling conflicts are generally handled with spring sports?

"What goes into the tournaments is trying to accommodate many athletes at many schools in many different situations -– whether that be graduations or proms. It’s just trying to juggle all those things…and certainly weather throws in a wrench. There are many hours spent by the tournament directors who have direct contact with athletic directors to try to make adjustments on the fly. They spend hours and hours looking ahead three and four games, looking ahead at three or four different possibilities or scenarios and how all the scenarios could play out. Then, what is the best resolution for conflicting scenarios? When you have a prom and you’ve got to play a game, when you have rain but you’ve got to play a game. The South has to finish their region, the North has to finish their region, the North and South have to get together, and there’s another nuance to this game today -- if this game goes Sunday then the North final goes Tuesday. If this game went Tuesday, then where does the North/South final go?

"It looks like if the games finish tomorrow in Division 1, Norwood and New Bedford play today, Chelmsford and Andover play tomorrow, and that means we could play as early as Tuesday. The target will be for Tuesday and that becomes the Eastern Mass. final, allowing us to have plenty of planning for the state finals on Saturday."

With the sense of urgency you described, does the MIAA have a ‘hard deadline’ for when spring tournaments need to be completed?

"It’s a pretty firm deadline. But I would say this: all the state tournaments have a final at a major venue in a major showcase scenario. Swimming has to go to a bigger pool, track has to go somewhere like the Reggie Lewis Center, so we’ve got these facilities and we have a deadline. So yes, it is a relatively hard deadline that state finals have to be done by the 14th – or whatever date that Saturday is [each year]. We find that it’s best on weekends in order to showcase all the teams, bring all our resources: the press and people following, the parents that love the sport, and the people who love baseball can come and watch multiple games.

"Hockey, Boston Garden. Basketball, WPI. Whatever you want to say. It’s a relatively hard deadline to pull off. With it being a hard deadline and us working backwards, things are on a deadline and they have to get done. Weather is just not a friend in the spring."

MIAA denies Medway/Ashland hockey appeal

March, 2, 2012
The MIAA announced this morning that it has denied an appeal filed by Medway High School Principal Richard Pearson after the Medway/Ashland girls' hockey co-op team lost 3-1 to Winthrop, in a Division 1 Preliminary Round game at Larsen Rink on Wednesday night.

During the game, a man was removed from the building for trying to distract the Medway goalie with a laser pointer, and has since been barred from all future Winthrop athletic events. The score was tied 1-1 at the time of the man's removal, and Winthrop went on to win 3-1.

In letter to Pearson from MIAA Deputy Director Bill Gaine, which was forwarded to members of the Boston area media, the appeal denial is explained:

Please be advised the MIAA is in receipt of your letter of appeal of the final results of the Medway vs. Winthrop Girls’ Ice Hockey game played February 29, 2012. While your advocacy for the Girls’ Ice Hockey team is appreciated and the extenuating circumstances you cite respected, Association members schools are obliged to honor the standards of the National Sport Code adopted by the membership. MIAA Girls’ Ice Hockey is governed by National Federation Ice Hockey Rules.

Section 3, Article a. of the National Federation Ice Hockey Rules reads, in part related to your appeal: “The referees shall have jurisdiction over the game upon entry on the ice prior to the game until the ice is cleared of contestants after the game. The referees shall enforce all rules and shall rule on situations not specifically covered by rule. In case of any dispute, the decision of the referees shall be final and there shall be no appeal.

Accordingly, the MIAA affirms that the decision of the referees shall be final.

For your information the MIAA Assembly, acting on a recommendation of an Ad Hoc Committee appointed by Board of Directors, voted that all interscholastic athletic contest controversies would be resolved by the process identified by the rules of the relevant National Sport Code (cited above).

In closing, please know that the MIAA Ice Hockey Committee will consider this incident while reviewing standards to insure optimal tournament experiences for all.

MIAA taps Pearson for Associate Exec. Director

February, 7, 2012
The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association officially announced this morning that they have tapped Medway High School Principal Richard Pearson as its next Associate Executive Director. He will begin July 1 and replace outgoing Deputy Executive Director Bill Gaine, who is set to retire at the end of June.

Here is the MIAA's official release, courtesy of Media Relations director Nathan Bonneau:

Richard L. Pearson, currently principal of Medway High School, has been named Associate Executive Director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Massachusetts Secondary Schools Administrators’ Association (MSSAA). He will assume his new position in June.

He will succeed William N. Gaine Jr., the long time Deputy Executive Director, who will retire on June 30, 2012.

In making the announcement, Richard F. Neal, Executive Director, said, “Richard has been an active member of our two associations for many years and is well informed on the mission, responsibilities and operations of both organizations. The fact that his peers elected him to serve as MSSAA President this year is testimony to the respect he has among the educational community as a leader.”

With the MIAA, Mr. Pearson has served on many committees, including the Tournament Management Committee and Lacrosse Committee, and is currently serving as Chair of the District C Athletic Committee.

Mr. Pearson was named principal at Medway H.S. in August, 2004. Among his many accomplishments in that position was supervising the opening of a new school. He was assistant principal at Foxborough H.S. from June, 2000 to August, 2004.

A musician by education, he holds a Bachelor in Music Education degree from The Ohio State University. He began his teaching career as Band Director in Walpole and later in Medfield. He holds a Masters in Education degree from Bridgewater State College and is currently in the process of completing course work in the doctoral program at Northeastern University.

Mr. Gaine joined the Associations as Assistant Executive Director in October, 1979 and has had major responsibility in the areas of student/athlete health and safety initiatives over the years. He also had executive responsibility for all phases of management for most Association-sponsored sports with current oversight for ice hockey, football and baseball. He was promoted to his present position in 1994.

Mr. Gaine has been the architect and catalyst for the development and growth of the MIAA’s Student Services Program which includes Sportsmanship, Wellness, Leadership, Community Service and Coaches’ Education. The MIAA and Mr. Gaine have been recognized statewide and nationally for creating programming focused on student athletes that enrich their interscholastic experience through a curriculum of educational athletics.