Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Almost 30 months after Cheverus High and Indiana Faithfull won the 2010 Class A basketball championship, the controversy surrounding the tournament may end.
Not that many fans of high school basketball have clamored for a resolution. Most have moved on. The winter of 2010 is so long ago. But now there is talk of Cheverus giving up its title because of the 30-month-old charge that it used an ineligible player who happened to be its star.
Quick primer: Faithfull is the Australian student who was discovered by Cheverus administrators to have used up the eight semesters of competition that are permitted by the Maine Principals' Association. Cheverus self-reported and suspended him from playing when school began again after the Christmas holiday.
The MPA, through its executive director, Dick Durost, concurred. An appeal for a waiver of the eight-semester rule was denied. That Australia's school year is six months different from the U.S. school year and the fact Faithfull had to be in an Australian classroom while his transfer was completed carried no weight.
Faithfull's family sought a temporary restraining order, saying the MPA discriminated against their son and a Maine judge granted it. Cheverus would be held in contempt if Faithfull did not play.
He returned to the lineup. Cheverus won the championship on the court. The MPA pressed on with its argument that Cheverus won with an ineligible player.
More recently, a second judge lifted the temporary restraining order.
Sometime soon, Durost and Cheverus Principal John Mullen will talk. That is known. What they will talk about is not, exactly. Both sides have been mum. The guess is the 2010 basketball championship will be the topic.
Don't assume Durost will move to strip Cheverus of its Gold Ball. I won't.
I have no so-called inside information, although I wish I did. No off-the-record comments, either. I did turn to a lawyer I know. Can we think out of the box, outside the lines?
He gave me two words: prosecutorial discretion. Durost is not a prosecutor and MPA eligibility rules are not criminal or civil laws. But Durost can use his discretion without fear of setting a precedent. In fact, he's done so when waivers are granted.
Thirty months later, it's even less clear that Faithfull, former coach Bob Brown and Cheverus were flouting or trying to circumvent rules or cheat. That wasn't their intent.
Faithfull, the son of an American father, came to Maine as an underclassman to better prepare himself to be an American college student and basketball player.
Faithfull came alone. He wasn't a resident so yes, he looked at a private school and yes, Brown and son, Brett, the current Australian Olympics coach, are known in Australia. Did Bob Brown recruit Faithfull? Probably not, at least not in the way Americans think of recruiting.
In fact, Faithfull is a forerunner. Maine high schools – academies that are found in Maine towns – are recruiting international students to fill classrooms. They've built dorms for these students. With shrinking local populations, the academies need students from away to survive.
And yes, that student from China or Italy or Turkey or Australia might have a nice 3-point shot, too.
That's the next issue to face the MPA, which is one more reason, big or small, it should resolve the 2010 championship issue. The MPA may form an ad hoc committee to deal with the public school-private school issue and how it affects the state postseason tournaments.
Strip Cheverus of its title? That would accomplish little. Edward Little High, the 2010 runner-up, has said the game was played on the court. Being awarded the trophy and the line in the MPA record book would mean little. Good for them.
The Maine Human Rights Commission split 2-2 on the Faithfull case, which is not black or white. A judge did issue a temporary restraining order, believing there was basis for cause.
Faithfull was the same player in February as he was in December. By the spirit of the rule, the extra semester in Australia waiting to catch up to the American school calendar did not transform him into a player that gave Cheverus an advantage.
Durost and his staff are paid by MPA members to oversee and enforce player eligibility rules, among a lot of other things. Which means Durost is paid to think, which he does.
He's also paid to use his discretion, which he can.
Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org