Boys Basketball: Riordan’s use of an ineligible player may lead to forfeits

By Jeremy Balan

(Developing story)

The Archbishop Riordan High School boys basketball team’s Central Coast Section playoff hopes may be in question due to the use of an ineligible player in six non-league games this season.

The Crusaders may have to forfeit those six games, five being wins, because a transfer student from Sacred Heart Cathedral played in the games without the proper paperwork being submitted to the CCS.

As of Thursday morning, the CCS has yet to be informed by Riordan of the ineligible player, so no forfeits have been imposed, but they are expected.

“He was eligible by school standards, but the appropriate paperwork was not filed,” said first-year Riordan athletic director Pete Russell, who said he discovered the oversight. “It fell through the cracks. Somehow we dropped the ball. We had the whole summer to figure this out, but as a new athletic director, this falls on my shoulders. That’s my job and there are no excuses. Luckily I caught it before league, when the games really count.”

Unfortunately for the Crusaders, it is their seven non-league wins that would give them a CCS Division IV playoff bid if their record remains intact. Computer rankings have the Crusaders pegged as the third-ranked team in the section’s division.

If the five wins in question end up as forfeits, the Crusaders would have to go 7-7 in West Catholic Athletic League play or win the league tournament at the end of the season to get into the CCS playoffs.

Riordan went 2-12 in WCAL play last season and hasn’t had a record at .500 or better since the 2007-2008 season. The Crusaders last missed the CCS playoffs in 2009 and have only missed the section postseason five times since 1979.

“It’s very tough to think about [missing the playoffs], especially for our seniors, who have been putting in work for their entire time here,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “Now I have to explain to them that they may not be able to play for a section crown.”

Buckner said that he never questioned the player’s eligibility because he was participating in football. The player was listed on the varsity football roster all season, but did not play in a game.

“I’ve been trying to rack my mind, and I thought a lot about this, but I don’t know what I could have done differently,” Buckner said. “I know my duties as coach and as a mentor, and I have done everything I should have.”

According to CCS assistant commissioner Steve Filios and CCS documentation, the transfer paperwork in question needs to be signed by the athletic directors from both schools, the student, his parent or guardian, the prior school’s principal, any current coaches the student would play for at the new school and any coaches the student played for at the old school.

As of Thursday, Sacred Heart athletic director Phil Freed was unsure if transfer paperwork had been submitted to the Sacred Heart athletic department.

“This was brought to my attention a couple of days ago,” Freed said. “All of the transfer paperwork has to originate from the school the transfer is to. I don’t know if that paperwork ever came across our desk.”

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66 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bummer. I wish the best of luck to the team.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s too bad. Hopefully something can be worked out

  3. WCAL Fan says:

    No Bueno.

  4. Johnny Drama says:

    I like how the AD is trying to use the I’m new card. He discovered the oversight because he caused it. It is his responsibility to insure paperwork is in order. Before the games really count huh Russell. Your team will more than likely pull an O-FER in league so you just caused them a CCS berth. Football season is over, like it or not your job is year round, it doesn’t end when football does.

    I feel terrible for Coach and the kids. Looks like hoops is an afterthought for Russell.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is only right…

  6. wcalsf says:

    you would think the new AD would have consulted with the former AD – Ron Isola, who is still on faculty…

  7. Ari Gold says:

    Any guess who the “player” is? Lets see…. Transfer….. SH…. Riordan…. I can name that player in 3 notes!

  8. AFitzsimon says:

    As someone who helped the Riordan basketball team last year this is hard to stomach. Jeremy mentioned their record last year and previously, but one thing that I always have respected about Riordan basketball from when they were a state-power when Jones, Camacho, Shoffner and Walton were playing to last years team that only won two league games is that they always play hard until the final whistle, and with these circumstances I wouldn’t expect anything to change. Point the fingers all you want, because you will do that anyway, but I think we should just look for resolve in this tough situation. If there’s one thing I will give credit to Riordan for is that it was a tight-knit community and I know they will stay strong through this. Let it make you better.

    • Johnny Drama says:

      Save the warm and fuzzy “Kumbaya” moment for Kairos son! Bottom line is someone who is getting paid to do a job didn”t do it and now the kids are being punished. Like I mentioned earlier, the job is year round not only during football season. I’ve heard Russell is a football guy and only knows and cares about football. Will they be forfeiting their wins in football…..oops, nevermind.

      They had a shot at winning a CCS in hoops which would be huge given the state of athletics at the school. Let’s hope CCS allows them to appeal or apply for a hardship. It’s happened before.

      • AFitzsimon says:

        The pointing of fingers achieves nothing, ever. I am not saying you’re wrong sir, however, how does the situation become better by demeaning someone? It’s in the hands of Daly, who I know quite well and he will do what needs to be done because that is what he is paid to do.

    • GCJ01 says:

      Both of you are correct. When it comes to transfer students the coaches and the AD SHOULD NOT let the athlete play until ALL of the paper work is cleared and the league gives them the “ok” for the student to play.

      History has shown that a lot of problem arises when it comes to transfer students. For the most part it has to do with paper work not being filed correctly or turned in. Coaches and AD’s aren’t ignorant to this fact so one would wonder why would they even chance it. Schools should wait until the LEAGUE clears the player to play. Just because you’re okay by the school’s standards doesn’t mean you’re okay to play by league’s standards. Of the two, which one is more important? It’s the league’s standards that schools have to go by.

      With that said, we can just hope for the best for Riordan. There definately needs to be a resolve. I just hope it favors Riordan because they are looking good this year and I would hate to see the seniors on that team get punished due to a situation that is out of their control.

      • DJ Whiz says:

        Maybe the player in question can best focus on academics and prepare for the new season , I think the Riordan team should not be punished for this oversight , think of the hard work these seniors have put in over the years . Maybe the rules need to be overhauled , at no time was there any malicious intent , dig deep and let them in . For future transfers – let this be a lesson learned , there is never an easy way out .

  9. BigMikeDC says:

    I’m pretty sure there is more to the story than what has been reported. Let it go.

  10. purplepride says:

    Hey BigMikeDC,
    There is more to it & the fact that now these boys have suffer for the screw-up of someone who was given this job on the pretense he knew what he was doing! All the boarding students that are there this year have their paperwork turned in & are eligible, how do you possibly over look the biggest tranfer in the city! The same transfer who praticing with the varsity football team all season! The same tranfer who came into Riordan last & led his B team to Purple & Gold Classic championship, basically by hisself!! There is no excuse for it! AD Russell needs to step up & admit that there is some other shady buisness going on!
    Whatever it is these adults need to take a moment & realize whatever their agenda is its affecting the basketball program, the school, & most importantly these innocent boys who go out everday & give their all to the school, the team, the coach, & themselves!!

    • wcalobs says:

      What kind of shady business? Give some detail to your insinuation and don’t be cowardly purplepride. I am sure you probably wear green anyways.

    • Anonymous says:

      If he is really that good, why did SHC play him at the freshmen level instead of JV or Varsity? Transferred to
      Riordan then suddenly he becomes the coveted player that he is right now, Is he ” the player” that will bring
      back Riordan to glory? I just don’t understand.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, he isnt special, he was not on Jv or varsity. he is progressing along like the other kids. Who knows he could just come back to SHC.

        • Scott says:

          I think he was only considered a big deal because he transferred from SHC and his dad was a star player for SHC in the 80s. Why he wants out of SHC when his brother is still there is weird.

  11. COncerned Citizen says:

    The new AD clearly has no clue about high school sports and how it works. “At
    least it wasn’t the regular season”? Doesn’t he realize the need, especially for
    Riordan to have a winning record in preseason and their overall record counts
    for seeding purposes for CCS. I am surprised he didn’t use his NFL lingo and say its
    all about the playoffs. That is where it really counts. Comical on one side and
    sad on the other.

  12. purplepride says:

    You want to know what shady business wcalobs?Why wasnt this issue of paperwork discovered during the football season? You have a veteran football coach not a newbie, but he never said “hey Russell I dont recall signing a transfer form for “that kid?” How could all 17 boarding students have their paperwork in order & signed off, but not perhaps the “biggest” transfer of all of the WCAL? Come on something like that is basic! When a kid transfers from one school to another school they have to fill out a application at the new school, why is that form not a mandatory part of the application?
    & by the way, I wear the purple & gold proudly!!!

  13. wcalobs says:

    Turning around a sports program in the depths of WCAL competitive hell is a huge task. The real criticism and questions should be directed to the previous AD and school President who oversaw the loooong slide to its present state. Talk about a comical and sad performance.

  14. GCJ01 says:

    I hope Riordan can bounce back from this. I had high hopes for them this year, especially after the season they had last year. They were doing better this season and I hope it all works out for them.

  15. RC Cola says:

    WHAT IS THIS, THE PEOPLE’s COURT?

    Instead of everyone pointing the finger at someone else, let’s just let things go. Who cares who’s fault it is? If there’s a problem, it will be fixed.

    If the Riordan basketball team wants to win CCS, they’re gonna have to do it as a team and not count on one individual to do it. Plus, I’m sure there is another JV player that can step into Varsity and contribute. Riordan hung with SI til the fourth without him. I’m sure if Riordan played defense for 4 game time minutes and made their shots, they would have won…

    So for right now, everyone just calm down and quit drinking the Haterade.

    PS. The fault really falls on the Football Team’s Head Coach. (sorry, I had to)

    • Kezar for Keeps says:

      This is one of the dumbest comments I have ever seen on this site. I’ll summarize. You don’t want people “pointing the finger” yet you blamed the football coach. Hypocrite!

  16. WCAL Alum says:

    Yes, very unfortunate, but I dont believe there was anything cryptic or deceptive about the transfer. Lots of transitioning at Phelan this past year and the transition may have played a factor in letting the paperwork slip. Lots of people both new and old should have known better to inquire. The new AD has taken responsibity for the error in following through with the procedure; hopefully that is enough. Being that said, the CCS should make its decision based on sound facts, intent, and how they have ruled on similar matters in past (i.e. probation, repremand, suspension). To give a WCAL school a pass, would not go well with other CCS schools.

    As for all the experts on this board, not one of us knows (or until this week) will read what the CCS rules say or how the ruling will be. Even with a probabtion and suspension, there may be an avenue for Riordan to petition for CCS, if deemed worthy. I wont fret over it personally, but I am sure stat man, historian extraordinare ARHS stats will decipher all Riordan’s possibilities.

    As for the young man in question, he did nothing wrong; from all accounts, a fine upstanding kid. As for the team (particularly the seniors), I wish them the best. Play hard and let the school do their best to rectify the situation.

    • purplepride says:

      WCAL Alum well said and I agree 100%. Lets the school try to fix this situation and lets wish CIF does the right thing and allows Riordan to move on and not take any wins away for a human mistake. Lets remember these are kids!!

    • WCALish says:

      Either it was or not this EX SH player fault or not…I felt bad for the seniors who are not going to playoff anymore. One person is effecting the whole team…I guess winning is almost everything for that team.

  17. freakinutz says:

    I wish they were this misguided with my grades when I was there!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Does his ineligibility has to grades or just paperwork? Im just trying to understand what exactly was missing. Usually before anyone plays ALL paperwork is usually checked and usually it’s done during or around tryouts. At my daughter’s school, she needed a physical before she could join otherwise she would have been ineligible. Could it be rectified without out consequences because technically he is school eligible? It sounds unfair for the team to suffer for it.

  19. Scott says:

    I guess it will be ok, Riordan was not going to win any games this year.

  20. crusader 81 says:

    what makes it sketchy is the fact that it wasn’t brought up or “discovered” until now. no one was worried about riordan getting into the ccs during football season. now that they have a team that has a shot at going to ccs, it becomes an issue.

    how did this come out in the open? did riordan make some sort of announcement? did another school blow the whistle? ccs doesn’t seem to know much about it yet.

    anyway, i was wondering why the “player in question” didn’t play against SI, they sure could have used a little more offense.

  21. WCAL Fan says:

    If anyone would like to focus on something more positive then check out the article in SF Gate on Bay Area Basketball Talent Excelling Nationally in college. I have had the opportunity to watch most of these players play in HS.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/06/SPUM1ML3U3.DTL

  22. Anonymous says:

    Seems like SHC AD held off on player’s release, typical hating that goes on at SHC.

  23. Fan says:

    The young man transferred to the school because it’s academic program was more suited for him then the SHCP curriculum. He has excelled in school and benefitted greatly from being there. Is father did hold him out of games while at SH due to the high standards the family set not the school for academics. Even though you need just a 2.0 to play, the family set the bar higher and I can respect that as a parent. Now t he issue of the paperwork is another story and really just a terrible thing at this point in time for all involved but especially the young man and his teammates. Yes they are rebuilding on Phelan and hopefully a lesson has been learn by all involved from player, parents, coaches and administration to have everything in order before any playing begins.

    For Jeremy: this is my nephew and I understand the reason for your modifying my comment from Tuesday and appreciate it. All the coaches knew as well as the league about the issue of the paperwork. Needless to say my family is not happy with any of it and no one wanted to admit the ball was dropped on this. We are hoping that the paperwork gets in by the end of next week and we hope that the team won’t lose those games he played. Thank you

    • GCJ01 says:

      I wish you, your family, and the Riordan team the best of luck. It is definately a sad situation. The good thing is, the kids are showing that they can rise above adversity as they have beaten Valley Christian. So they’re off to a good start! God bless all of you.

      • Crusader Mom says:

        Thank you for that comment. Ultimately, it is the team players who have devoted so much time and effort in their daily practices and games who are being punished. The situation is quite unfair but we are praying for the best and hoping things will fall into place. I am proud of our Riordan boys for taking all this maturely. God bless us all.

  24. Anonymous 1 says:

    Funny how Mr. Freed and SHC are playing the innocent card, yet they should be taking most of the blame for this incident! If one looks at the actual paperwork, the former school needs to sign off on the transfer student first by having the AD, school’s principal, and all signatures for the previous coaching staff. Why didn’t the former school (SHC) inform the parents of the procedure for transfer eligibility and give them the required form 207/209/510 with all the required signatures? http://www.cifstate.org Riordan, the current school for this transfer, are last to sign this form and Riordan keeps a copy for their records and mail the original to the CCS. The form starts with the previous school.

    • Anonymous says:

      Until you have all the facts and know for certain what the circumstances were for this young man’s transfer no names should be used. Accusing the AD at SHC for this unfortunate incident borders on libel!

      • Anonymous 1 says:

        First of all names and schools were used in the article. Mr. Russell showed character by taking accountability for his part. Why not Mr. Freed and SHC? Do your homework and look at the paper work yourself. SHC does play a role in this unfortunate situation, and they need to be accountable as well. The paper work starts with SHC and ends with Riordan. Facts, circumstances, and the young man’s name does not matter; the protocol of the paper work does and school A must sign off on it first before school B signs and turns it in to the CCS.

        • Anonymous says:

          If a student transfers AND wants to play a sport he/she MUST start the process in order to be elibilble to play at the new school. If the process is not started by the transferee how can the “old” school be responsible for not getting the paperwork done if they were not notified that the transferee wanted to play a sport?

  25. RC Cola says:

    Riordan won today… 1 down, 6 to go. Sweep VC, Split the series with SI, Serra, St. Francis, Bellarmine, and SHC and they’re in!

    Yes, I’m dreaming, but who knows, it can happen…

  26. Big guy 24 says:

    I agree with RC Cola, Riordan won last night and thats a positive, so now let the kids play hard and stay positive and win some games. Paper work will take care of itself this up coming week. Stay upbeat Crusaders and fight for what you want in the tough WCAL.

  27. Purplepride says:

    If the student never transferred before how in the world would he or his parents even know there was a form to be filled out if former or current school doesn’t tell them! You cannot put this on the student!
    Can we move past it now, Riordan got a win against VC, now they need to prepare for Serra.
    We will all be rooting for you Crusaders!!!

  28. Interesting mistake?? says:

    So much information is incorrect:

    1. Paperwork for a transfer is generated by incoming school, the departing school has no responsibility to proach the subject. I do believe at all of these faith based schools, the focus should be the student/athlete and not point fingers of who should be responsible or who is at fault. C’mon Man!!!

    2. No transfer issue is here since the alledged student was a freshman and transferred within his or hers (okay it is Riordan) rights as a freshman. Why punish the school / program for lack of knowledge, or lack of compliance to rules. All we are really looking at is missing a rubber stamp.

    3. Body of work? This is the first transfer that was not within compliance at Riordan (to my knowldge of the program in 30 odd years), may it be new leadership or something else? I would hope that CCS and others don’t make this an example and look at body of work from a school.

    4. Rules are in place for a reason and Riordan winning six more games may be the fair solution, but when a program could do some real damage in CCS? Other schools will look at the decision very closely and wonder why they have two sets of standards of compliance.

    Tough spot a program have placed student/Athletes in by not doing due dilligence – oh well

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