PATERSON, N.J. – The state’s high school sports association announced on Wednesday it will hold hearings about the boys and girls basketball teams at Eastside (Paterson, N.J.) High, and the Paterson school district said it will cooperate with the probe.
The Eastside teams used at least six players from overseas who lived at the homes of their coaches, according to an investigative report issued this spring by former state Supreme Court Justice John Wallace.
The scandal prompted Eastside’s boys and girls to drop out of the state tournament this year and resulted in the district terminating Eastside’s athletics supervisor, as well as the head and assistant boys basketball coaches. The head coach of the girls’ team was suspended for next season.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) will convene hearings through its Controversies Committee within the next several weeks, the group announced. These would be the first time in more than two years that the association’s controversies committee has held hearings, officials said.
Players, coaches and administrators will be asked to testify, officials said. But the association does not have subpoena power and potential witness could decline to participate in the hearings, the group said.
“We will cooperate with the proceedings,” said Paterson schools spokeswoman Terry Corallo.
Alfred Maurice, the lawyer for the fired head coach of the boys team, Juan Griles, did not respond to a phone message seeking to find out whether his client would testify at the hearings.
Matthew Trella, the lawyer for the assistant coach, Alberto Maldonado, indicated his client would be willing to participate. “If he’s invited, I don’t see why not,” Trella said.
Jonathan Hodges, a long-time member of the Paterson Board of Education, said he welcomed a comprehensive investigation into the “child trafficking” that he said happens at high schools, especially private ones, in New Jersey.
“I hope the process addresses not only what happened at Eastside but also the problem that’s been rampant throughout the state,” said Hodges. “I hope they will put a stop to the hypocrisy.”
Wallace’s report found that staff at Eastside had violated the NJSIAA’s rules regarding the use of transfer players. Wallace also called for a criminal investigation into what he described as improper changes in one of the player’s academic transcript.
The state athletic association had assisted Wallace in his probe.
The group’s 10-member controversies committee will comprise superintendents, principals and athletic administrators from across the state, according to the association. But the names of the committee members have not yet been disclosed.
The organization said the sessions will be closed to the public because minors will be involved.
Prior to the Eastside case, the NJSIAA held hearings several years ago that resulted in the North Bergen High School football team forfeiting its 2011 state championship, a case that also involved the use of transfer players who stayed at an apartment provided by a head coach.