Coach cleared of wrongdoing in Jonathan Nicola case, but team may forfeit all wins

Coach cleared of wrongdoing in Jonathan Nicola case, but team may forfeit all wins

Outside The Box

Coach cleared of wrongdoing in Jonathan Nicola case, but team may forfeit all wins


The sordid Jonathan Nicola affair has reached the phase of parceling out responsibility and blame. It appears that the 29-year-old South Sudanese native bears responsibility for his own fate, and the family which sheltered him in Ontario, including his high school coach, is in the free and clear, another unwitting victim to a desperate refugee.

Apparently that still won’t be enough to save the record of their Catholic Central basketball team.

RELATED: 29-year-old prep hoops impostor was ID’ed trying to cross U.S. borderCanadian border officials arrest African 29-year-old posing as 17-year-old basketball player

As reported by the Windsor Star, the Windsor and Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association (WECSSAA) came public with its knowledge of complaints about Nicola during the season, which is to say that not a single opposing coach complained about the 6-foot-9 player or his purported age. Neither did the WECSSAA find any fault with Catholic Central coach Peter Cusumano, who has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the case by both the WECSSAA and Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB).

“We have no concerns about Peter’s integrity as a coach or a teacher,” WECDSB spokesman Stephen Fields told the Star. “When a serious incident occurs in any school, administration looks into it closely. He’s a genuine guy who always is interested in doing the best for kids. We stand behind him.”

While there is plenty of sympathy for Cusumano’s plight, there is little appetite to completely eliminate the penalty facing his team, which is very likely to face the official forfeiture of all victories from its 2015-16 season, in which Nicola was the team’s standout star on the interior. When the WECSSAA meets at the end of the spring season, it will consider a motion to declare all of Catholic Central’s games a forfeit, though WECSSAA president Kim Larsen said that there was no urgency to address the Nicola issue before then.

“We’ll deal with it at our end-of-year meeting at the end of May or the first week of June. I’m sure it won’t take long,” Larsen told the Star. “We’re treating this the same as any ineligible player incident, such as a residency issue.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports