Paterson (N.J.) Eastside hit with unprecedented penalties in basketball recruiting scandal

Paterson (N.J.) Eastside hit with unprecedented penalties in basketball recruiting scandal

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Paterson (N.J.) Eastside hit with unprecedented penalties in basketball recruiting scandal

After a prolonged investigation by governing bodies both local and federal, the punishments have been handed down for the basketball recruiting scandal at Paterson (N.J.) Eastside. A slap on the wrist, this is not.

On Tuesday, New Jersey’s governing body for high school sports levied an unprecedented level of sanctions against the Eastside boys and girls basketball programs, including a two-year state tournament ban for both teams and $1,500 worth of fines.

As NJ.com reports, the state ruled that Paterson Eastside violated several recruiting and eligibility rules and failed to file proper paperwork for several players who came to the school as part of an international pipeline that has fed the powerhouse boys and girls teams over the past six years.

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The ruling came down after a nearly three-hour hearing Tuesday morning before the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Controversies Committee. The six-person committee voted unanimously to impose these sanctions, per NJ.com:

  • A two-year state tournament ban for both the boys and girls teams, with one year already served. The teams will still be allowed to play in county tournaments.
  • A two-year coaching suspension for Eastside boys coach Juan Griles, in addition to a $1,000 fine. Griles also will be required to successfully complete a teaching and modeling behavior course before being appointed to coach at any NJSIAA member school.
  • A one-year coaching suspension for Eastside girls coach Ray Lyde Jr., in addition to a $500 fine. Lyde also will be required to successfully complete a teaching and modeling behavior course before being appointed to coach at any NJSIAA member school.
  • A two-year probationary period for the entire Eastside athletics department, through the end of the 2018-19 school year. Any violation of NJSIAA rules and regulations during that time will result in a controversies hearing and possible additional sanctions.
  • Seasonal reviews of the entire Paterson district athletics program – including both Eastside and Kennedy High – with a focus on eligibility and transfers. All district athletics staff also will be required to attend several state workshops and complete courses on teaching and modeling behavior and fundamentals of coaching.

“The committee wanted to penalize the students as little as possible since this is really the result of actions of adults who should have known better,” NJSIAA attorney Michael W. Herbert said, per NJ.com. “The committee felt very strongly with regards to the coach’s actions and the administration’s actions and wanted to make sure those are taken care of.”

The hearing came nearly four months after NJ.com began releasing the reports of the international pipeline that had been going through both the Eastside boys and girls programs since at least 2011. The report found that several boys and girls players from Africa, South America and Puerto Rico were living with district coaches while claiming them as their legal guardians on school documents. This recruitment and subsequent housing of the players led immigration experts to describe it as human trafficking.

While the NJSIAA did not force the Eastside teams to forfeit any previous games or championships, the fines against the coaches are believed to be unprecedented. According to Herbert, the money will go into the NJSIAA’s annual scholarship fund.

In April, in the wake of a 250-page, taxpayer-funded report, previously suspended boys basketball coach Juan Griles was fired by the Paterson Board of Education along with assistant coach Alberto Maldonado. Also fired was athletic director Gregory Cooper, while girls basketball coach Ray Lyde Jr. was suspended for at least one year. Secretary Patty Granados was also fired from her part-time work, while Eastside principal Karen Johnson decided to retire. There is no clear tie between Johnson’s retirement and the report.

Per NJ.com, Maldonado was not suspended by the NJSIAA but is required to successfully complete the teaching and modeling behavior course before he can be appointed at an NJSIAA school.

Paterson board of education member Emanuel Capers didn’t quite agree with the ruling.

“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” he told NJ.com. “Our coaches should not be getting sanctioned or any other penalty – like, loss of job, loss of coaching job. All those sanctions should not be in place.”

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