Hutton: Noll did nothing wrong in transfer, still pays price
By Mike Hutton 648-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org December 4, 2012 11:06PM
Dundee-Crown's Brandon Rodriguez (23) advances into Harlan's Lamous Brown (33) during the second quarter at Elgin High School in Elgin, Ill., on Thursday, December 22, 2011. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: January 6, 2013 10:00AM
Now that the messy case of Lamous Brown has come to a temporary end, we know this much for sure: A frolicking, frisky 6-10 junior basketball player won’t play for a year, the process for determining his eligibility was clumsy and littered with a series of unfortunate errors and Bishop Noll’s name was dragged unnecessarily through the mud on this one.
The Warriors really did nothing wrong here but that’s not at all how it looked.
Bear with me while I explain. The details are not at all sexy but they are necessary.
The factual information about the mechanics of the transfer are all courtesy of Bishop Noll athletic director Marianne Galfano.
Brown, a 6-10 center from Chicago Harlan, transferred to Noll in August. His transfer, which includes separate athletic and academic components, was approved sometime shortly after Aug. 9. It’s important to note that Harlan did sign off on Brown’s transfer.
In late October, Galfano received a phone call from the Indiana High School Athletic Association. Harlan had called the IHSAA saying the principal had never seen the paper work for the transfer. The IHSAA told Galfano to figure it out. For a week, via e-mail and phone calls, she tried to contact administrators at Harlan.
They never responded.
Galfano then contacted the IHSAA again to say she could not get any response from Harlan.
On Nov. 6, the day after the Harlan basketball coach said incorrectly in a published report that Noll had never sent in a request for transcripts for Brown, Harlan acknowledged that indeed the electronic transfer for his eligibility did come from its school.
The Harlan principal disputed some of the answers on the original transfer.
On Nov. 12, after a phone call to the IHSAA, I tweeted that “Brown had been cleared to play. No issues with transfer.” The information given to me by the IHSAA was incorrect (big surprise). The IHSAA was looking at his initial transfer in its system, which had him being approved in August.
The IHSAA asked Harlan to start all over with the transfer papers. In the new electronic transfer, the principal at Harlan gave a completely different set of answers, according to Galfano. He also didn’t recommend immediate eligibility this time for Brown. The new transfer paperwork arrived at Bishop Noll on Nov. 16. Galfano has no idea who signed the original transfer but it’s not unusual for schools to have a protocol in place to let another administrator sign off on the paperwork because the transfers happen frequently during the summer, when people are on vacation.
On Nov. 26, the IHSAA sent a ruling to Galfano in the morning that Brown was ineligible for a year because its investigation concluded that he left for athletic purposes.
How did the news arrive from the IHSAA that Brown was ineligible? In the form of a one-paragraph e-mail from IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox that states a violation of rule 19-4 occurred. That basically means he left for athletic purposes.
There is no explanation of the investigation. No description of what happened, who the IHSAA talked to or how it came to its conclusion.
Oh, one more point: The IHSAA didn’t even have a conversation with Noll to get its side of the story. This is a typical result when one side disputes the immediate eligibility of the player. The IHSAA doesn’t bother to call both sides.
Galfano, a first-year athletic director, called the ordeal “difficult. We had an original set of paper work whereby both institutions agreed on eligibility.”
The result of this mess is that Noll is perceived as the school that recruits, that doesn’t play by the rules, that is shady and untoward.
The reality is that the school did everything right here — and still got the public relations sunburn through no fault of its own. Had Harlan contested the transfer initially, this never would’ve reached the level of public discourse.
The irony of this is that you’d think the IHSAA would stand behind its member school, not an out-of-state school that acknowledged that somebody in its office screwed up when it initially sent the transfer form.
The mystery about all this is why someone at Harlan decided to essentially go after Brown nearly three months after the transfer was completed. Wouldn’t you think it’s pretty easy to notice your 6-10 center isn’t at school anymore and dispute it right away if that’s what Harlan wanted to do?
The sad part about all this is that Brown, unless he wins an appeal, will never, ever get the year of basketball back.