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Update on Federal Way boys hoops matter

Post by Doug Pacey / The News Tribune on Oct. 13, 2009 at 3:18 pm with No Comments »
October 13, 2009 3:45 pm

South Puget Sound League athletic directors will have to wait to hear a “point of clarification” from Federal Way officials about possible use of an ineligible player on the Eagles’ boys basketball team in its state championship 2008-09 season.

Federal Way athletic director Miguel Perez will not address the SPSL athletic directors at its monthly meeting Thursday morning at Sumner High School. Federal Way had asked to be placed on the agenda, but an independent investigation ordered by the school district has not been completed and Perez asked Rick Wells, president of the SPSL athletic directors, to instead it on the agenda for the Nov. 19 meeting.

“Federal Way wants to wait for their outside investigation to be complete before they give their point of clarification,” said Curtis principal David Hammond, who is the president of the SPSL principals.

Diane Turner, chief communications officer of the Federal Way School District, said the third-party investigator finished his interviews on Monday, but still has material to review.

“I do not have a firm date on when the attorney’s investigation will be complete,” she said.

One of two things will happen when Federal Way does address SPSL athletic directors, Hammond said. The league will accept the findings of Federal Way and the independent investigation, or it will ask the West Central District or the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association to appoint a fact-finder to look into the matter.

Federal Way completed an internal investigation earlier this month and found that clerical errors contributed to the transcript of former Eagles student and basketball player J.T. Koontz showing that he had failing grades in two first-semester classes, which would have made him ineligible for part of the 2008-09 season, including at least part of the postseason. Decatur coach Kevin Olson discovered the possible violation when reviewing the transcript of Koontz, who transferred to Decatur in the summer. Koontz was a reserve for Federal Way and averaged two points per game.

Eagles coach Jerome Collins maintains that no rules were broken, but declined to speak further about the investigation.

However, Koontz’s mother, Amy McCargar, painted a different picture. She told the Seattle Times that Collins pressured teachers to change her son’s grades, even though the issue was brought to light recently because Koontz’s transcript showed failing grades.

Federal Way could be forced to forfeit  its 2009-09 Class 4A state championship if it is found that Koontz was ineligible.

The Federal Way School District has one of the state’s strictest eligibility rules, requiring students to have at least a C-minus in all classes. Many school districts use the WIAA standard, which allows students failing no more than one class to be eligible.

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