Eron Gordon can play basketball again — for now.
Marion County Superior Court judge Louis Rosenberg ordered and preliminarily enjoined the Indiana High School Athletic Association from limiting or restricting the athletic eligibility of Gordon, a junior at Cathedral High School.
It’s not a final decision, however. Rosenberg instructed the Indiana State Board of Education’s Case Review Panel to take another look at the Gordon transfer case, in particular to “determine whether Eron’s application for a waiver of limited eligibility was treated in a manner consistent with the treatment of similarly situated, prior applicants.”
“In the meantime, Eron can play basketball,” Rosenburg said at Friday’s hearing.
From the outset, the Gordon’s family and lawyers Buddy Yosha and Rich Cook have argued that the basketball standout was treated differently than other transfers in similar situations. IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox told the Star in the summer that Gordon’s move from North Central was “as blatant of a transfer as there’s ever been” and ruled no eligibility for 365 days.
The IHSAA review committee upheld Cox’s ruling in August. The case review panel voted 6-2 in favor of Gordon having limited eligibility, essentially allowing him to play junior varsity basketball (which he hasn’t). Both North Central and Cathedral originally recommended eligibility for Gordon when he transferred, a point Rosenberg referenced in his review.
“In conclusion, we are left with the question of what distinguished Eron’s circumstances from the many student-athletes whose waiver requests were approved without investigation,” Rosenberg wrote. “…Without such an answer, the action of the IHSAA must be regarded as arbitrary and capricious.”
The 6-2 Gordon is considered one of the top-50 players nationally in the junior class and has offers from Indiana and Purdue. His oldest brother, Eric Jr., was the 2007 IndyStar Mr. Basketball at North Central and went to play at Indiana and in the NBA. His other brother, Evan, who attended Friday’s hearing, also played at Indiana.
Eric Gordon Sr. declined to comment on Friday’s ruling, deferring to Cook.
“I think (Rosenberg) understood and agreed with our arguments on disparate treatment,” Cook said. “He can play, so that’s a positive outcome. I think it’s a vindication for the family that he agreed with the case review panel that basically the motives (for a transfer) were academic in nature. I think it’s vindicating for the parents to have those motives recognized.”
There is no deadline on when then case review panel will issue its decision. Cathedral (3-6) will play in the City tournament next week, opening against either Arlington or Herron on Tuesday at home. Before Friday’s ruling, Gordon would have had varsity eligibility beginning March 7, the day of the sectional championship.
After leaving the courtroom, Cox said the IHSAA would meet with its legal counsel and decide whether it will appeal the ruling. He said Rosenberg’s decision was “part of the due process.”
“We’ll move forward,” Cox said. “The judge has enjoined the association and that’s the way the process works. Now we’ll decide what to do next.”
Rosenberg cited a lack of evidence on the IHSAA’s part in proving Gordon’s transfer was athletically motivated. The Jan. 22, 2014, meeting between Gordon Sr. and Doug Mitchell “is the heart of the IHSAA’s case,” Rosenberg wrote. The possibility of a transfer arose at that meeting, but North Central’s season improved from that point forward and the issue was never again raised. The IHSAA also included comments from Eron Gordon to the Star about his “rocky season.”
Rosenberg went on to say the IHSAA failed to act impartially, failed to produce or introduce evidence known to be relevant and in the exclusive possession of the IHSAA, had unreasonable limitations on the production and introduction of evidence and treated transfer requests in a disparate and unreasonable manner.
Gordon averaged 14.7 points as a sophomore at North Central.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.