The Kentucky High School Athletic has ruled that Cordia High School’s basketball team cannot play any scrimmages or games in the coming season and must forfeit all boys’ games from 2013-14 for using at least one ineligible player in all the games.
The ruling from the KHSAA comes after a yearling investigation into the program, coached by former Kentucky player Rodrick Rhodes. Cordia had several talented players transfer to the school in Knott County in recent years.
In a release KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said “this series of events may well represent the most wanton and blatant disregard for Association rules in its 97-year history.”
The team was 23-9 last season and lost in the 14th region tournament to Hazard. Cordia was 19-10 in 2012-13.
The KHSAA says the school violated rules involving eligibility, enrollment requirements, transfer for U.S. citizens and foreign-exchange students, financial aid, recruitment and requirements for coaches.
Cordia also was fined $25,980 for the infractions.
“The majority of the aforementioned violations are clearly indicative of a school without any appreciable level of institutional control over its athletic program,” Tackett said in a release. “While some violations date back to the 2010-2011 school year, the major violations occurred during the past twelve to twenty-four months. The violations in previous years, however, add context and it is my conclusion that they illustrate an undeniable pattern of practice and culture of noncompliance that has been allowed to evolve at Cordia.
“… There is apparently no person within the school or school system willing to actively and aggressively control and manage the athletic program. Therefore, students have been allowed an unrestricted privilege of participation without compliance with applicable and appropriate rules.”
The KHSAA says it found evidence that representatives of the athletic program, including representatives of the Lotts Creek Community School, committed the violations of KHSAA bylaws, many of which were acknowledged by the school, including:
• Falsifying records, or maintaining inaccurate records with regards to living arrangements of transferring student-athletes.
• Allowing a staff member to lease housing to the family of a student-athlete without ever receiving payment.
• Impermissible contact with multiple student-athletes with the intent to sway them to enroll at Cordia for the purpose of competing in athletics.
• Providing free transportation to relocate a student from an out-of-state school.
• Providing plane tickets on two separate occasions to a student-athlete so he could travel out-of-state.
• Facilitating housing for a student-athlete at no cost to him or his family.
• Providing money and clothes to student-athletes.
• Conducting tryouts for non-enrolled students.
• Paying the entire cost of education for two students on an F-1 exchange VISA to attend Cordia.
• Providing housing to numerous students that participated on the boys’ basketball team, as well as housing for their families.
• Allowing ineligible players to practice and compete in contests before they were cleared to participate.
• Requiring players to attend practice prior to the official start date for preseason practice (Oct. 15), and disciplining students who missed these practice sessions.
• Holding “open gym” practices that were limited to the boys’ basketball team and thus mandatory, following the elimination from the postseason.
• Failing to properly monitor the coaching requirements for individuals coaching in the boys’ basketball program.
Cordia has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the KHSAA Board of Control.