For NHIAA's Corbin, no easy exit
NHIAA Executive Director R. Patrick Corbin is retiring at the end of the school year. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
His term at the top of the organization that governs high school sports in the state is not likely to end quietly.
These final weeks will be filled with the usual debate that surrounds the fierce competition that takes place with tournament titles and championship hardware on the line. There will no doubt be discussions about calls made by officials on the field and courts, and chances are there will be difficult decisions to be made on when to play, or not play, because of weather conditions in a season that started late because of a long winter.
The latest revolves around Dominic Timbas, a 6-foot, 5-inch junior forward, who sought a waiver to receive another year of basketball eligibility.
But NHIAA rules state that players are eligible for no more than eight consecutive semesters of competition after the completion of eighth grade.
Pembroke Academy requested a waiver to allow Timbas to play.
The Timbas family disagrees strongly with the ruling and through the school has appealed it. The eight-semester rule is in place to prevent "redshirting," an acceptable and common practice in college athletics, especially football, that buys players an extra year to learn their team's system and work on getting bigger and stronger to be better prepared for when they start playing in games.
Among them: "A maximum participation requirement promotes harmony and fair competition among member schools by maintaining equality of eligibility," reads part of the entry under the heading "Rationale for the Semester Rule" in the 2013-14 NHIAA handbook of rules and regulations. "Each student is afforded the same number of semesters of athletic ability, which increases the number of students who will have an opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics.'
He said he can recall granting one during his eight years as executive director.
"It has nothing to do with Pembroke," he said. "It happens to be a Pembroke student, but on the merits of that case, I would have ruled the same way no matter what school in New Hampshire he attended.
Not afraid to say 'no'
The entire situation perhaps goes back to something more basic, Corbin suggested.
"He's willing to take on tough issues, and he doesn't back away from them," said Chick Smith of Concord, a longtime basketball official who has gotten to know Corbin better and become friends with him while serving as supervisor of basketball officials the last four years.
"I've never seen a guy who has consistently tried to do the right thing as much as he has, even though it might not be looked at as popular," Smith said. "He's got to make decisions based on the best interests of everyone and the rules. I think he does a great job."
"He's as solid as they come," Collins said. "He's always there for the kids, and he's always worked for the benefit of the kids over the years."
Corbin is proud of the fact that under his watch the NHIAA has increased the numbers of sports it sanctions - adding bowling and fishing, as well as the unified sports of track and field, soccer and basketball - which opened the doors to hundreds of kids, at least, including many who had never anticipated they would play for their high school teams.
"We run about 50.9 percent males to 49.1 percent or so females participating," Corbin said. "It's almost 50-50, and those are the best numbers in the country."
"I think those issues are always going to be there," he said. "One of our major reasons for existence is to ensure equity of competition and equality of opportunity. We have to protect the integrity of the sports and integrity of competition."
"I do think there are probably a lot of people who will be glad to see him leave," Smith said. "I don't think the organization is going to be any better off for having him leave. I think he's going to be a tough guy to follow. I think this guy is a gem."