Maryland School for the Deaf barred from SpikeOut

[Transcript] The Maryland School for the Deaf’s volleyball team was barred from attending SpikeOut, an annual volleyball tournament that typically brings the nation’s largest Deaf school programs.

This year’s host is the California School for the Deaf, Riverside. One of their varsity players, a junior, moved to Maryland several weeks ago and is now on the MSD varsity volleyball team’s roster.

CSDR has accused MSD of engaging in illegal recruiting practices.

The MSD volleyball team posted a video and a petition last night saying that the girls are paying the price by being “caught in a crossfire.”

The SpikeOut tournament is scheduled for October 4 and 5.

The Daily Moth reporter Renca Dunn and I have worked together on this story and talked with several people. We’ll share what we know.


Hello, Renca! You’ve talked with both superintendent offices for both schools, MSD and CSDR. Can you share what they told you?


Yes. Clearly this situation is severe. Both schools provided official statements, from MSD’s Superintendent Mr. James E. Tucker and CSDR’s Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hlibok Amann. Both of them did try to talk with each other and resolve this, but it appears that CSDR has made up their minds on barring MSD from going to SpikeOut. I will share the official statements from both schools.

Mr. Tucker from MSD said, “Maryland has asked Riverside for evidence regarding their grievances. Riverside promised to produce evidence, but after one week they have not. Maryland is still waiting as due process is one of the cornerstones of our individual rights in this country. Maryland will continue to work hard until there is a positive resolution. That is, Maryland will go to Riverside for the Spike Out Tournament as defending champions, and we look forward to healthy competition with our five sister schools.”

That’s the statement from MSD. Now here is the one from the Office of the Superintendent at CSDR.

“It is unfortunate that this had to happen but what MSD did is called a violation of recruitment. So, we had to make this difficult decision to not allow them participate only for this year’s tournament. There will be a meeting for all superintendents and athletic directors from the participating schools to discuss on developing our national level guidelines to prevent this happening again and to protect our students.”

Those are the official statements from both schools.


I had a conversation with a person who is a part of the athletic community among Deaf schools and that person is familiar with internal discussions about SpikeOut. The information that I got is that there is a level of frustration among other Deaf schools that MSD is recruiting — or is making it very easy to bring in other student-athletes from out of state — and that it’s causing an unfair competitive advantage.

There is another issue with affiliation with states’ athletic associations. It’s interesting to note that MSD is an independent…




MSD is independent of the state’s athletic association and they are officially recognized as an independent.


[CLARIFICATION: MSD is an "Approved Non Member"

of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic]

CSDR and other schools report to their respective state athletic associations. What is the big difference? Being independent allows more flexibility with certain rules. For example, with the student transfer — if she was to go to another Deaf school in a varsity sports program during the middle of the season, the student would have to be limited to the junior varsity team or sit out a season or there will be some kind of “wait” time. But it seems the MSD student transfer was immediately on MSD’s varsity team roster. So there’s that. Also, the source from the athletic community said this was not the first instance, that there were similar incidents in the past. So that’s why there is not a strong showing of support for MSD, as it seems multiple other schools are on CSDR’s side. I’m talking about Deaf schools who are involved with SpikeOut. It seems there is a consensus.


I know that MSD said it’s not new information, that it is already known that they are a program that is not affiliated with their state program. This gives them flexibility to travel far and play against other Deaf schools. So they feel blindsided and are asking, “Why now?” What makes this situation unique than others? They said this is normal and is the same as past years. So this adds to the frustration from community members.


CSDR did — when I looked at their previous announcements about SpikeOut — they already had MSD as one of the teams set to attend the tournament. It’s there on their pages. Maybe it’ll change with MSD being removed, but as of a few days ago, MSD was on the list. So the issue of state affiliations seems to be a part of the issue, but it is not the issue. It seems to be about the transfer student and it has triggered feelings from past incidents. That’s my impression.

You did have talks with some community members from MSD and I had talks with some community members from CSDR. Can you share from MSD and I’ll share from CSDR?


Sure. From my conversations with MSD community members, they feel frustrated that MSD has always been a big target because they have a good athletic program. They feel like others don’t value their students’ experiences of meeting with other students, that MSD is just a target for others. They feel disappointed this happened and who suffers? The students. The decision to bar MSD did not affect only the students, but also their parents and friends concerning this year’s tournament. There are parents who have bought plane tickets. Some friends bought plane tickets and are excited to visit, but now are disappointed.

Community members have shared their frustrations and heartbreak. They said this situation is not a lighthearted one or something that they can get over easily. No, they are really heartbroken, especially when it comes to seniors, who are the hit the hardest. They want to be viewed as a whole and as a community rather than viewed as specific individuals. That’s what I got from community members.


I can imagine there is a lot of pressure. From my conversations with CSDR members, they said that the time was now, that they had to take a stand, to draw the line. They said there were a lot of frustrations in the CSDR community that specifically MSD was taking away or interfering with their athletic program or other programs. CSDR also said other Deaf school programs were in agreement with the CSDR community by saying the same sort of things happened with them. There are also other underlying, lingering issues and feelings on how MSD allegedly takes away players. So they don’t feel this is solely about the recruiting/transfer issue, but more about the big picture — that someone has to do something to stop it “now.” That’s my impression from them.


I want to add this — one community member from MSD told me that MSD did make an offer for the transfer student to sit out, to not play in SpikeOut, but it seems that CSDR still said no and barred them.


I want to add another thing from the CSDR community. I was told that they have some sort of evidence that someone from MSD had contact with the student and tried to recruit her. This evidence seems to be what Tucker was referring to in his statement. CSDR’s official statement did not mention “evidence,” but CSDR community members told me that there is some sort of a record of a contact. Will that specific information come up?

One interesting thing to note is that there is no governing body for Deaf school student-athletes nationwide. There is some type of gathering for athletic directors, there are some regional programs such as Mason-Dixon and others, but there’s nothing similar to the NCAA to deal with that...




Yes, nationwide. We don’t have that. Does it mean the Deaf community needs a governing body?


Yes, I think a part of that concept is what the Office of the Superintendent from CSDR talked about when they said there will be a meeting with superintendents and athletic directors from participating schools. This will elevate their discussions to the national level and develop guidelines because it’s obviously necessary. Maybe in the past schools have gone by with holding meetings or having verbal agreements. But now there is a need for something to be set in black and white. It will help with future situations, so they can go back and look at what the policy says. Right now there is no national level policy.

It’s truly an unfortunate situation right now. It appears the situation will continue. The tournament is next week, right?


Yes, next weekend.


Right, it’s not like it’s “next month” or something. It’s next week, so it’s intense and time is another big factor here. So I guess we’ll see as time goes on what the result of this is. But yes it’s definitely an ongoing issue and discussion. We’ll see.


It’s almost out of time. A lot of pressure on both programs and both schools. Thank you so much for sharing.


Sure, definitely.


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