A boys basketball coach for a well-respected Catholic school in San Antonio has been fired one day after reports emerged that he had played a star athlete in a game after that player had been deemed ineligible by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS).
As reported by the San Antonio Express-News, St. Anthony basketball coach Jeff Merritt was fired on Thursday after he played star 6-foot-10 forward/center Charles Bassey in his team’s 61-49 win against Beeville. The Beeville coach, Mike Luce, reported that Bassey came off the bench and played in three periods of the team’s victory, an action that was in direct violation of TAPPS’ edict that the Nigeria-born Bassey sit out the entire 2016-17 season after it was ruled that he received inducements to attend St. Anthony.
“I feel sad for him, because he’s a coach that fights for us,” Bassey told the Express-News after St. Anthony lost 45-44 against Southwest Thursday. “He does everything to make it right, because what TAPPS did was wrong. I played last year, so I don’t know why I wasn’t playing this year.”
Bassey, who is the No. 2 ranked prospect in the Class of 2019, led St. Anthony to a TAPPS state title as a freshman. He is one of three St. Anthony players who have been ruled ineligible by the governing body for the state’s private schools, a decision which clearly enraged Merritt, a former assistant for national power and preseason USA TODAY Super 25 No. 1 La Lumiere.
TAPPS executive director Bryan Bunselmeyer viewed video of Bassey competing in the game on Periscope and confirmed that such action would likely lead to further widespread discipline against St. Anthony. Bassey’s participation in a game could also have negative implications for his two would-be teammates who are also facing season-long suspensions but could be freed from the bans upon appeal.
Regardless of what happens to St. Anthony, Merritt won’t be around to see it. Perhaps that’s fitting, considering that Merritt previously credited Bassey as one of the primary motivations behind his decision to accept the St. Anthony position in the first place.