UNIVERSITY of the East president Ester Albano-Garcia admitted the school's various teams have fallen victims to the rampant piracy in the UAAP where poached athletes head to a "certain group" of member schools.
Speaking during the recent Senate hearing with regards to Senate Bill 2166 or the Magna Carta for Student-Athletes, Albano-Garcia rued that many of UE’s top high school athletes have left the school after being poached time and again by other schools.
“There is a lot of poaching going on where only two or three schools are the direction of the athletes - from us to a certain group in the UAAP,” said Albano-Garcia, without mentioning the names of the universities, during the committee hearing called by Senator Pia Cayetano.
Albano-Garcia cited UE's boys’ volleyball team, which had won 10 straight UAAP titles but has seen four of its top players over the last few years leave for one particular school.
The UE president said another player from their high school team is being offered - through his parents - to move to the same school, the identity of which she declined to divulge.
“This year, our MVP is again being offered to go and leave UE for that school. The student doesn’t want to leave UE but the parents are the ones being offered. This is the difficult situation,” said Albano-Garcia.
Albano-Garcia told Cayetano that it is just "statistically improbable" for four players to decide to transfer to one school.
“I understand your concern about the freedom of the students to choose school but what is the probability that our four volleyball players would be joining just one school?” she told the committee.
“Other than it is just the desire of the student to go to a good school, I don’t think that’s statistically probable considering what is going on,” said Albano-Garcia.
Albano-Garcia didn't go into specifics although another official, Far Eastern University athletic director Mark Molina, earlier told the same hearing that excessive perks and benefits offered to athletes have led to rampant player poaching, prompting the UAAP to impose the controversial two-year residency rule on transferees.
Cayetano is the author of the Magna Carta for Student-Athletes which hopes to put a stop to unfair practices in the college leagues.
In hindsight, Albano-Garcia said she understood why the UAAP imposed the two-year residency rule for high school transferees under the current situation.
“I think the UAAP board passed this residency rule precisely because they recognize that it is a problem,” said Albano-Garcia.
In response, Cayetano said her bill was crafted precisely to address Albano-Garcia’s concerns.
“That is the reality that drove me to file this bill. What is the probability that every single MVP for the last few years would go to the same school? I don’t know the names of the school but it is not difficult to find out.”
“We recognize that there are forces beyond the simple desire of the student to transfer that make them transfer to a different school. That is the challenge to the UAAP and other collegiate leagues,” Cayetano added.