Ear Hustle

Basketball Coach and Entire Team Suspended Amid Recruiting Allegations Stripped Of All Wins

A few weeks ago Earhustle411 posted a story about Varsity Girls Basketball Coach Anthony Smith from Homewood Flossmoor.  The parent challenged the complained that the coach recruited the current starting line up.  Six girls who were previously under Coach Smith’s direction 4 from Bolingbrook High School and 2 from other schools, legally transferred and moved from their respective areas to Homewood-Flossmoor.  According to the IHSA rules this is completely legal as everything checked out and all the girls were deemed eligible to play.  Unfortunately the parent of one of the players seemed to have gotten a case of the itch in the rear because her child was bumped from the starting lineup.  While it is understandable that a parent would want their child to have access to the best opportunities for college however this entire situation has left no one hanging except THE VARSITY BASKETBALL TEAM!!!! Read the full story below as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times:

IHSA bounces Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team from playoffs

Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball coach Tony Smith. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times MediaHomewood-Flossmoor girls basketball coach Tony Smith. | Jim Karczewski/For Sun-Times Media

The Homewood-Flossmoor High School girls basketball team and its acclaimed first-year coach Anthony Smith were top contenders for the state title this season.  Now, they won’t even play a game in the tournament.

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Homewood-Flossmoor 2013-2014 Varsity Girls Basketball Team

In a stunning decision Wednesday, issued about an hour before H-F was to play its opening game in the tourney, the Illinois High School Association dashed all hopes of the team’s postseason glory. Citing several violations of its bylaws, the IHSA banned H-F from competing and forfeited its 21 victories this season. The team, ranked second in Class 4A by The Associated Press, and which had lost only once, was scheduled to play T.F. North at 6 p.m. in Calumet City.

In a last-ditch attempt to avoid the severe penalty, attorneys representing the H-F players asked a Cook County judge for a temporary restraining order to block the IHSA’s decision but were denied. Attorney Timothy Liam Epstein, representing player Faith Suggs, said the players were disappointed by the IHSA ruling and the judge not granting the court order.

“There’s no wrongdoing on the part of my client or any other student-athletes,” Epstein said. “They’re basically suffering for the actions of someone else, and, as a result, there’s a lost opportunity for them to compete for the state championship and a lost opportunity for them to showcase their talents before college coaches for scholarship opportunities at the next level.”

The IHSA decision comes about a month after the parent of an unnamed current H-F player sued the school in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking Smith’s removal as head coach and a declaration that six transfer players be deemed ineligible. The lawsuit claimed that the six transfers participated in practices over the summer while they still were enrolled at other schools, that Smith violated the IHSA’s rules regarding recruiting or trying to recruit students and that the situation “undermines and destroys the close-knit community fabric” in H-F School District 233.

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But the IHSA decision didn’t address those allegations. The IHSA statement says Wednesday’s decision stems from its inquiry, prompted by the lawsuit, and that the violations were found after H-F asked the IHSA to review its own internal investigation into the lawsuit’s claims.

In a Feb. 14 correspondence to the IHSA, H-F Principal Ryan Pitcock reported rules violations, including that the school improperly held conditioning programs “for a span likely greater than nine years” that were not open to all students. Pitcock wrote another letter to the IHSA on Wednesday, acknowledging that Smith had attended an AAU event, signed in as head coach and watched a game in which his players were playing, a violation of IHSA rules.

Smith also sent out a text at 8:58 p.m. June 2 that read, “Open Gym tomorrow at 4 pm-6 pm South Gym in the Box. Please be on Time. Time to get better!” The IHSA said that was a violation, and some of the players who received the text weren’t yet enrolled at H-F.

After meeting with IHSA officials in Bloomington on Wednesday, Smith and H-F athletic director Craig Buzea returned to the school about 5 p.m. and were walking together through a cafeteria toward the athletic office when approached by a reporter for comment. Buzea declined. A drawn-looking Smith shook his head when offered an opportunity to respond to the IHSA’s actions.

 

“Not adhering to these bylaws created a distinct advantage for the Homewood-Flossmoor girls’ basketball program,” IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a statement. “The school has admitted to violating IHSA bylaws 2.090 and 3.107. In fairness to the teams in the tournament who abided by IHSA rules, removing Homewood-Flossmoor from competition was the most equitable decision.”

In an email, H-F director of human resources and public relations Jodi Bryant described the ouster of the girls team from the tourney and the forfeits as an “unfortunate situation for our athletes, coaches and the H-F community. Even though there was no intent to violate the IHSA bylaws, the … two violations occurred as a result of inadvertent decisions made by adults. It was our hope that our student-athletes would be spared consequences and that the IHSA would respond with sanctions against only the adults.

“It is with heavy hearts that we enforce these sanctions against our athletes … but the integrity of Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School, the IHSA and the bylaws that govern our high school athletic programs must be held in the highest regard. We respect the decision of the IHSA and will continue to work together as we proceed through this process.”

According to records the IHSA released with its decision, Smith’s players participated in September in the U.S. Junior Nationals’ Battle of the Programs as IL-Dream Team 17, which included 11 current H-F players. College coaches from across the country attended, according to the tournament’s website.

The IHSA statement says H-F officials on Tuesday said they would suspend Smith and 11 varsity players but still allow the team to participate in the tournament.

But on Wednesday, the school asked to appear before the IHSA board of directors, which was holding a regularly scheduled meeting in Bloomington, and Hickman announced the suspension when they arrived, according to the IHSA statement. It said the school appealed, but the board sided with Hickman.

Four of the six transfers on the H-F team this season followed Smith to H-F from Bolingbrook High School: Amarah Coleman, Destiny Harris, Kristen Moore and Lexi Smith. The other two transfers were from Marist (Bria Stallworth) and Plainfield East (Suggs).

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Documents the IHSA released late Wednesday show that three students were listed as having the same home address in Flossmoor. The IHSA had cleared the transfers before the season and declared the players eligible. At the time the lawsuit was filed, Hickman said the players’ former schools also signed off on the transfers.

At Bolingbrook, Smith’s teams won four state championships, in 2006 and three in a row from 2009 to ’11. The Raiders also finished second under Smith in 2007 and ’08. Before Smith became coach, Bolingbrook never had advanced beyond the regionals in the state tournament.

Smith, himself a Bolingbrook graduate, left the school at the end of last season to become coach at H-F.

Bernie Coderre, who plays for the H-F sophomore boys basketball team said he disagreed with the IHSA’s ruling. He said “the best players are going to play” on any talented squad.

“I know a bunch of city schools doing the same thing H-F did,” Coderre said. “For someone from H-F to file a lawsuit, I disagree with that. Once you’re on the team, you got to support your team.”

Brandon Levi, an H-F sophomore, said he regularly attended the girls basketball games. He said the team captured the attention of the student body, creating a “hype atmosphere,” and he was disappointed he couldn’t watch the team finish the season.

“They were unstoppable, to be honest,” Levi said. “There weren’t many teams that could beat them. It’s a bummer to see them stopped dead at the tracks, pack up and leave the season behind.”

Source: Chicago Tribune

Let’s take a serious look at this.  Competitive sports whether boys or girls is big business.  Somebody is going to make money off of the athlete whether they are a mediocre player or the star player.  Homewood-Flossmoor is not the exception.  The girls basketball team roster is quite heavy 17 girls to which 12 of them are seniors.  Of those 12 seniors 6 have signed commitment letters to various schools which I believe the statistic is about accurate.  Approximately 1/2 of the departing seniors receive sports scholarships.  Without the expertise of Coach Smith the likelihood of the girls getting sports scholarships on their own would be very difficult.  Of the 6 girl who did receive offers how many of them can truly add to the “brand” of the institution that picked them up.  Click on the links to the respective senior players and decide for yourself: 

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/javieonna-norris/jtfhLWD6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/kristen-moore/jtfhLmD6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/kiara-carter/Y-6qC_TtEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/jayla-barrett/Y-6qMvTtEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/gabrielle-sanders/Y-6p1_TtEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/amarah-coleman/jtfhL2D6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/destiny-harris/jtfhMGD6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/kandace-tate/jtfhNWD6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/candace-hicks/Y-6p6PTtEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/adebisi-mabodu/Y-6ot_TtEeKZ5AAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/kelsey-chandler/jtfhNmD6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

http://www.maxpreps.com/athlete/lexi-smith/jtfhN2D6EeOzMAAmVebBJg/gendersport/girls-basketball-stats.htm

The stats speak for themselves and this does not include the total package such as teamwork, professionalism, academics and overall prowess of each of the girls but you can best believe those that did get signed it was something that the receiving institution saw in them to even consider an offer. 

1 Jaiveonna Norris – Committed to Western Kentucky University   6’0″ 2014
2 Kristen Moore – Committed to University of Missouri @ Kansas City   6’0″ 2014
3 Kiara Carter – No Commitment   5’3″ 2014
4 Jayla Barrett – No Commitment   5’7″ 2014
5 Gabrielle Sanders – Committed to St. Joseph’s College   6’2″ 2014
10 Amarah Coleman – Committed to University of Illinois   5’10” 2014
12 Destiny Harris – No Commitment   5’7″ 2014
13 Nadia Green   5’8″ 2017
15 Bria Stallworth   5’4″ 2015
20 Ashley Blair Johnson   5’5″ 2015
23 Faith Suggs   6’1″ 2015
30 Kandace Tate – Committed to Eastern Illinois University   6’2″ 2014
32 Candace Hicks – No Commitment   5’10” 2014
34 Adebisi Mabodu – No Commitment   6’1″ 2014
40 Kelsey Chandler – No Commitment   5’8″ 2014
44 Lexi Smith – Committed to Wright State University   6’0″ 2014
55 Eva Rubin   6’5″ 2017

Personally I wouldn’t care if 10 of the 11 girls all had the same address, the concept of teamwork has been trampled on all because one child and her parent are upset that she was no longer in the starting lineup.  Of course as a parent myself of athletically privileged children my thought process is may be a bit different from other parents.  Now this parent really got what she asked for and then some but at what cost.  The entire team has been “benched” and are not allowed to play in the playoffs and unfairly stripped of their hard-earned successes in this current season.  I hope the parent that started this ball to rolling on the court is now very happy because her child has been punished right along with the transfer girls she so despised.  WAY TO GO MOM!!! If I seem upset about this case, well I most certainly am because the actions of one has affected the majority and this somewhat legalized “witch hunt” has gone way too far and I am quite sure that this is not the last we will hear about this and Earhustle411 will be right there to report it!! 

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