Monday was a very bad day for Paterson (N.J.) Eastside boys basketball coach Juan Griles. First, a NJ.com investigation found that he had been secretly hosting six foreign-born players on his own team, in direct violation of state recruiting regulations. Making matters worse, he apparently had left some fearful for their own welfare.
Now, Griles has been suspended along with his top assistant, Alberto Maldonado, as the Paterson school district awaits the findings from a New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association investigation into the living circumstances surrounding three Puerto Rican and three Nigerian-born members of the Eastside basketball team, as reported by our Gannett colleagues with the Bergen Record.
“The district takes this matter very seriously, especially as it pertains to the well-being of our students,” district spokeswoman Terry Corallo said in a statement gathered by NJ.com.
According to the website, student files show that two of the Nigerian-born players transferred to Eastside from a school in Idaho. The third previously competed at a private school in Connecticut, while little has been identified about the trio of Puerto Rican players, including the team’s starting point guard.
The most disturbing aspect uncovered by the investigation was the lack of care allegedly provided for the students. Here are some of the harrowing details gathered by NJ.com:
- Several people within the school district expressed concern about the players, fearful the boys were being moved from place to place without concern for their welfare. One player, a source within the district said, was told he needed to leave the condo because the food now belonged to another player who had just arrived. Another player was in tears at school because he feared being sent away.
- One player said Griles did not provide enough food in the house and that dinner was spaghetti for “a whole two weeks” or “just a loaf of bread to last two people for like two weeks.” The player, who also spoke on the condition his name not be used, said the teens sometimes would seek out food at a local church, often had to fend for themselves on weekends and that “we didn’t eat anything” on Thanksgiving.
Naturally, if any (or all) of these details are proven true, they almost certainly spell the end of Griles’ tenure at Eastside. For now, the major concern focuses on the welfare of the players he was allegedly harboring to improve the quality of his team.