The hearing was a follow-up to an earlier ruling by the LHSAA and first reported on by New Orleans television station WGNO. The committee voted 16-1 to uphold the initial determination with one abstention.
Allen moved in with John Curtis assistant coach Jerry Godfrey midway through his sophomore year because of the long commute from uptown New Orleans to River Ridge. The LHSAA determined the arrangement fit their definition of recruitment, so any games that Allen played in would have to be forfeited.
John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, who has more wins than any active high school coaches with 548 and was the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2012, argued in the hearing that Allen wasn’t recruited and the arrangement merely allowed him to stay in the school he preferred.
Curtis told USA TODAY Sports that the school’s next step might be to go to arbitration, depending on what the school’s attorney suggests.
“We were extremely disappointed in how this went,” he said. “We felt like the facts were ignored. Our next move is we’re going to visit with our attorney the latter part of this week or the early part of next week and make a decision of whether we’re going to arbitration or not. The problem with arbitration is we have to put up $5,000 and if we lose, we have to pay their (attorneys’) costs as well as ours. We have to make sure we have a legitimate chance to be successful. We think with a neutral arbitrator and the facts of the case and the ambiguity of the rule that we would have a legitimate chance. But I want to reserve the judgment on that until we talk to our attorney.”
That Allen lived with Godfrey’s family was not exactly a secret as the story was covered by ESPN and other outlets last season.
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“We didn’t try to hide anything,” Curtis said. “If we had any clue we were breaking a rule, we wouldn’t have said anything. When he moved in with Jerry, they assumed he was going to leave the school because of the hardship of travel. But the kid testified he was never leaving Curtis and they didn’t consider that.”
Even without the 20 games or so games that Allen may have played in, Curtis would still be the active high school coach with the most wins as the No. 2 coach, Mike Smith of Hampton, Va., has 465 wins.
“I have to go back and see the games he played in and the games he played in we technically have to forfeit,” Curtis said. “To be honest with you, I don’t care about the wins. I’m not in it to win a game. I’m in it for the opportunity we have to help young men progress. … They think I’m worried about the wins? They’re crazy. I won’t be giving back our (championship) rings, I’ll tell you that. They can have their trophy and do whatever they want with it but we know we won and we did it in a legitimate and fair way.”
The LHSAA voted in 2013 to have separate championships in football for public and private schools. Starting in the 2016-17 school year, there will be separate championships for baseball, basketball and softball as well.
“Our state is in flux with public and private schools and we think that played into it,” Curtis said. “I think they thought, ‘Let’s pass this on to the next level and at least we can say we tried.’ That way they don’t have to hear from their constituents that they let us off.”
John Curtis opens its season on Friday at home against Landry-Walker (New Orleans).
After the announcement, Allen showed his support for his former school: