A new lawsuit filed by an ousted basketball coach and assistant principal at a Kentucky high school claims a basketball business owner orchestrated a widespread system of recruiting violations that were known by other school and district administrators.
As reported by the Appalachian News-Express, Kentucky BCI Basketball owner David Clevenger is accused of driving athletes toward the Pike County Central basketball program, and that when former basketball coach Keith May alerted school officials about Clevenger’s expansive involvement with the program he was forced out, first as coach and then as assistant principal.
May filed a suit in Pike Circuit Court, detailing the degrees to which Clevenger was apparently involved in the Pike County boys basketball program. Many of the accusations focused on a student athlete who transferred to Pike Central from West Virginia, then allegedly had an uncle engage in the following disturbing interchange with May (per the News-Express):
According to May, when Student 1 arrived, he was contacted about the student being recruited to the school. May called contacts he had at Mingo Central and “was given some stories about some things that happened there.”
“I confronted Mr. (David) Clevenger about it and his comment to me was, ‘The least you know about it, the better off you are,’” May said in his deposition. “I did inform … (former principal David Rowe) at that time that I suspected … the kid … was illegal.”
Things escalated from there, according to May’s deposition.
“(Student 1’s) uncle came to me probably a week, week and a half, into practice and … said, ‘We need to talk.’ I won’t forget it. It was a drizzly day out back of the gym. I said, ‘Okay.’ He said, ‘No, let’s go to your coaching office,’” May said in the deposition. “So we went in there and his first comment to me was, ‘Where’s our car at?’ I said, ‘What do you mean … I don’t know what Dave (Clevenger) has promised you, but I don’t play that way.’”
May said the student remained at Pike Central for the next three or four days before he left the school, “without withdrawing or anything.”
That is a pretty damning anecdote, though it may prove to be difficult to substantiate. May reported his suspected violations to authorities and was then told he would not be retained shortly thereafter.
A year later he was out of his job as assistant principal at the school as well. That dismissal is likely connected with three other students who May reported suspicions about, one of whom was an international student from Ghana meant to attend a prep school in Indiana who was intercepted by Clevenger at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and made to live in the Clevenger family home. He later complained of the arrangement to May, who then reported the incident to the Pike Central Principal Steven Taylor, who pledged to “take care of it.” Days later the student refused to return to Clevenger’s house, leaving Taylor little option but to call Kentucky social services.
Two other students entered the school under suspicious circumstances, both with ties to Clevenger, who at one point allegedly had one student tape over the video cameras in the school gymnasium to keep recordings from showcasing any activity that might run afoul of Kentucky High School Athletic Association regulations.
If there was any question about the district’s complicity in Clevenger’s role, consider this: when May asked why Clevenger was present at 90 percent of the team’s practices without having a former role, Taylor’s response was that Clevenger was a “good booster.” Pike County Central does not have an official acknowledged basketball booster program.
How May’s lawsuit plays out from here remains to be seen, though it is controversial without question. Should he win, the case would likely shake up the Pike Central hierarchy. If he loses, the worst that could happen would be that he remains an algebra teacher at Belfry High School. No wonder he would move forward feeling as though he has nothing to lose.