Wednesday’s appeal hearing to determine the football eligibility of a student who transferred to Martin Luther King High School in March has been postponed until next month.
Robert A. Lombardi, executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), told NewsWorks on Tuesday that scheduling conflicts for the principals of MLK (William Wade) and George Washington High School (Gene Jones) led to the delay.
While Lombardi initially thought Dawayne Young‘s appeal would be heard during the week of Aug. 18, a frustrated Wade said later that he’d provided Jones with two dates from which to choose: Aug. 5 or 12.
On the phone from a Principal Effectiveness Training session in Harrisburg, Wade called the Washington faction out for a mean-spirited effort that “does not put this student’s future first.”
He also noted there would be no such controversy if Young wasn’t a “Division I bound football player.”
Attempts to reach Jones via phone and email were unsuccessful early Tuesday afternoon.
The back story
Young, a highly touted defensive lineman, transferred from Washington to King in March.
He and his family cited commuting times, a dearth of academic support and his mother Annette’s desire to have her oldest son attend school near his younger brother and sister, who go to the nearby West Oak Lane Charter School.
Officials at Washington successfully fought his athletic transfer, claiming that the move was geared toward playing football at King (PDF), which won its first-ever Public League title last season as a documentary crew recorded its every move. They also claimed the player had been recruited. Young denies both accusations.
After a local hearing in May, a PIAA District XII committee unanimously declared Young “ineligible to participate in football for one year from the date of transfer.”
As a rising senior, that would ostensibly render him unable to play games during a season in which college recruiters would decide whether to offer him a scholarship like the one that Temple University already extended.
Prior to the delay, Cougars Head Coach Ed Dunn expressed confidence that the appeal board at PIAA headquarters near Harrisburg would overturn the local decision.
“I think the PIAA board in Harrisburg will be able to look at the situation objectively and realize, given all the information that’s available about how this kid has been improving academically, as well as attendance-wise, that this was purely an academic transfer,” he said.
The MLK Cougars first game of the season is Aug. 29, against the Coatesville High Red Raiders, but Young is practicing with the team in the meantime, officials said. [Update: This story was updated to reflect the fact that the team allows Young to practice pending the outcome of the appeal.]
The Cougars face the Washington Eagles on Friday, Oct. 24.