PORTLAND – The question of whether Indiana Faithfull should have been allowed to play for Cheverus High School in this year’s state basketball tournament continues to generate controversy, four months after the talented senior guard helped the Stags win the Class A championship.

The Maine Principals’ Association ruled Faithfull ineligible because he had used up his allotment of eight consecutive semesters. Faithfull started high school in his native Australia, where the school calendar put him one semester ahead of Maine’s system.

Faithfull played in the tournament, however, because Justice Joyce Wheeler granted an injunction and temporary restraining order after Faithfull’s parents challenged the MPA ruling by filing a lawsuit in Cumberland County Superior Court.

The judge said it was likely that Faithfull would win the lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against based on his national origin.

Depositions are now being taken in that case, which would go to trial this fall at the earliest. The MPA maintains that Faithfull was ineligible and that Cheverus should forfeit the title.

Faithfull’s lawyer, Paul Greene, accused the principals’ association Thursday of trying to circumvent the court process.

Greene said he learned this week that MPA officials had set up a meeting for today with Cheverus officials, without inviting Greene, Faithfull or his parents.

Greene said MPA leaders apparently want to speak with Cheverus Principal John Mullen and the school’s lawyer about the possibility that Faithfull violated a rule that prohibits high school students from playing more than four seasons of the same sport.

The “four seasons” rule was not raised in the MPA’s earlier decision regarding Faithfull and is not part of the court case.

Greene, of the Portland firm Preti Flaherty, blasted the MPA for calling a meeting and described it as an attempt to do an “end-run” around the court case. On Wednesday, Greene sent a letter to the association’s counsel, Meg LePage.

Greene said his law firm will consider any negotiations on the eligibility matter a breach of Justice Wheeler’s previous orders and a potential violation of Faithfull’s rights under the association’s rules.

“We request that these MPA actions cease,” Greene said in the letter. “Any attempt by the MPA to declare Mr. Faithfull ineligible or strip Cheverus, Mr. Faithfull and his teammates of the gold ball earned for winning the 2009-2010 Class A State Basketball Championship while this matter is pending would be a violation of the (temporary restraining order) issued by Justice Wheeler.”

LePage declined to comment on the purpose of the meeting set for today.

“This is a private issue between the association and a member at this point,” said LePage, of the Portland firm Pierce Atwood. “We are not going to attempt to litigate this in the press.”

LePage did respond, however, to Greene’s concerns about process by saying the principals’ association will respect all of Faithfull’s rights and will not violate any court orders during the meeting with Cheverus officials.

“We obviously deny that this is breaching any obligations to any other person, and we are not going to comment beyond that,” she said.

Melissa Hewey of the Portland firm Drummond Woodsum represents Cheverus. She said the MPA asked to meet with her and Mullen.

“Until that meeting has happened, and they have made whatever requests they are going to make, I can’t really say what it is going to be about,” Hewey said. “I would say it is more to hear from them what their position is.”

The school intends to respect any decision the court ultimately makes regarding Faithfull’s eligibility, Hewey said.

“If the MPA wants to meet with Cheverus, Cheverus is going to meet with them,” she said. “We are going to make sure we comply with any court orders that are out there, respect the rights of our student and respect the rules of the MPA because we are a member.”

Faithfull was named Mr. Basketball for the year by the Maine Association of Basketball Coaches. He has enrolled at St. Thomas More, a prep school in Connecticut, for the fall.

Greene said Preti Flaherty has agreed to represent Faithfull without charging him or his family. If the firm wins the case, any court costs or attorney fees awarded will be used to establish a scholarship to help bring foreign student-athletes to Maine, Greene said.

“We believe as a firm that we had to take this case on. Our senior partners are very interested in this case, and we are not going away,” he said.

“The MPA guidelines only contemplate an American system,” Greene said. “The impact of the rules is that it is impossible for him to comply because he went to school in Australia, which operates under a different semester system.” 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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