My wife, children, and I graduated from Alabama public schools and participated in athletics throughout. I worked 25 years in public education as a teacher, coach, administrator, and superintendent.

As we competed against private schools, I remember thinking, “They can recruit. They have private school privilege.”

When I retired, the unimaginable happened … I was employed by a private school. I’ve spent 11 wonderful years at Mars Hill Bible School and learned it is much bigger than athletics.

I routinely hear people verbalizing the things I used to think. I’d like to share a few facts about private school athletics:

1) Private schools comply with all AHSAA guidelines regarding student athletes (school zones, out of district, bona fide moves, etc.). The AHSAA monitors continued compliance closely.

2) If a student athlete transfers to a private school after seventh grade, his/her family (not the school) must pay full tuition. This is true even if the family qualifies for a discount for which any other student would be eligible.

3) Over 85% of our student athletes attend MHBS from elementary (many from preschool).

4) Classifications are based on 10th- through 12th-grade students. Private schools are “weighted” so that each student counts as 1.35.

When I hear negative comments about private school athletics, I remind myself that I’ve “been there and thought that.” We can all agree that regardless of school colors or a team’s mascot, all our young people are God’s most precious gifts to us.

Dexter Rutherford



(1) comment

John Hand

Mr. Rutherford's letter reminds me of Shakespeares immortal line from the play Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much." Mars Hill is actively recruiting players throughout are area and it is well known. I have spoken with numerous families who may have a decent child athlete and have been approached by coaches directly or supporting boosters. We are one of those families. What Mr. Rutherford did not tell is that while I would be required to pay for son's tuition the first year, we were offered "financial assistance" and then told that my child would be available for "scholarships" in the second year. I have informed the State of Alabama High School Athletic Association. Its sad to me that a school like Mars Hill which I thought was "Christ" centered is willing to cheat for the sake of athletics.

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