Suit filed against H-F High School District 233 alleges recruiting, district says

2014-01-16T17:01:00Z 2014-01-17T00:19:50Z Suit filed against H-F High School District 233 alleges recruiting, district saysGregory Tejeda and Phil Arvia Times Correspondents nwitimes.com

A lawsuit filed this week accuses the Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball program of recruiting players, district officials confirmed Thursday.

Jodi Bryant, a spokeswoman for Homewood-Flossmoor High School District 233, said high school officials heard about the lawsuit involving the girls basketball program Thursday morning.

“We are aware of the allegations being made against us,” said Bryant, adding that school officials had not yet seen the suit. “We will fully cooperate with any investigation that will be done on this matter.”

She said the lawsuit contends the girls basketball program coached by Anthony Smith improperly recruited ballplayers from other schools to be part of the Vikings’ program. Details about the lawsuit, including the name of the person who filed it, were not immediately available.

Smith denied the allegations.

"(Wednesday) night is the first I heard of it," Smith said before coaching the Vikings against Sandburg on Thursday. "It's not true. I don't know anything about (the lawsuit), but (the allegations are) not true."

Smith said he could not comment further.

"When I can talk about it, I'll talk about it," he said. "I can't talk about it. I wish I could. When they tell me I can, I will."

Six players on the Homewood-Flossmoor varsity roster transferred to the school this year. Amarah Coleman, Kristen Moore, Destiny Harris and Lexi Smith came from Bolingbrook, Faith Suggs transferred from Plainfield East, while Bria Stallworth came from Marist.

None of the seven players who were on last year's sophomore roster are currently in the program.

The Vikings were 13-2 overall and 6-0 in SouthWest Suburban Blue after Thursday's win against Sandburg.

Lakeisha Coleman, the mother of Amarah Coleman, defended Smith. Coleman said she believes the suit was filed by the parent of a child who plays on the school's junior varsity team.

"We know that for sure," she said. "That's just really sad that a person chose to teach their child to be dishonest, to be deceitful, instead of teaching them that hard work pays off.

"It's really sad that a parent would go to those measures to discredit a coach's character when that coach does nothing but good things for kids."

Tie Moore, mother of Kristen Moore, called the lawsuit "sad" and said it was her "civil right to live wherever my money dictates I can."

"It's turned into 'if my baby doesn't get what she wants, I can sue.' There's too many frivolous lawsuits in this country," she said.

Dave Harrison, father of sophomore player Cyle Harrison, said the program simply took an opportunity to get a good coach in Smith. He said people may have been surprised at the number of girls who transferred to play at Homewood-Flossmoor, but they did not do anything illegal.

He said that the school district is strict about residency requirements, and that all the girls were cleared to transfer.

"We moved to Flossmoor 12 years ago so my daughter could go to a good school," Harrison said. "That's why the majority of these kids come to H-F. Even if (the transfers) did come for basketball, it's no big deal. These are good young ladies. I don't understand what the big deal is."

Bryant said neither the school nor the district had taken disciplinary action while looking into the matter.

In a statement, IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said his organization is not investigating.

“The Illinois High School Association provided eligibility rulings on each of the transfer students at Homewood-Flossmoor High School who have been referenced in the ongoing litigation," the statement said. "All were granted eligibility in regards to the IHSA residence and transfer by-laws."

The statement said the IHSA relies on each high school's administration to verify adherence to IHSA rules for student-athletes, including transfers.

"In this instance, all of the sending schools concurred with the transfers," Hickman said.

"Given those facts, the IHSA is not currently investigating the Homewood-Flossmoor High School girls’ basketball program or any of its student-athletes. The IHSA retains the right to open an investigation at any time and could do so if any information is presented that indicates IHSA by-laws may have been violated,” the statement concluded.

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