Girls Basketball: Lawsuit alleges recruiting violations at Homewood-Flossmoor
January 15, 2014 10:56PM
Homewood-Flossmoor head coach Anthony Smith reacts after a call against Bolingbrook in Bolingbrook on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. | Mike Mantucca / For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2014 8:53AM
A member of the Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team is suing the school, claiming its new coach unfairly recruited players from other schools for star spots on the team.
The player — a minor referred to as Jane Doe — filed the suit through her parent Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court against Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School District 233.
The suit claims coach Anthony Smith recruited six teens he previously coached at different schools to play at H-F. Four of the athletes previously played for Bolingbrook while one played for Plainfield East and another for Marist, the suit said.
Smith said he was unaware of the lawsuit but denied its claims. “That is not true, that is definitely not true,” Smith said. “That’s something that I’m not thinking about or not worrying about because that’s just not true.”
All six teens participated in practices with the returning members of the varsity over the summer while the teens were still enrolled at other schools, according to the suit.
Even though the students later claimed resident status in H-F’s boundaries, the suit claims the coach’s actions violate IHSA rules that prohibit recruiting or trying to recruit students, regardless of where the students live, the suit claims.
The player claims the situation “undermines and destroys the close-knit community fabric” of residential parents, and places winning above adherence to IHSA rules.
The suit goes on to claim Smith promised the transferring students’ parents “assistance in securing a college athlete scholarships” and “significant playing time as a regular starter of the Homewood-Flossmoor girls varsity basketball team; and the opportunity to compete in basketball tournaments outside the state of Illinois before audiences that would include prominent college coaches.”
In September, the school district approved the transfer of all six students to attend H-F, which the suit calls a direct violation of IHSA rules.
However, the school district said it contacted the IHSA and said it confirmed the eligibility of all six students, the suit said.
The suit seeks the removal of Smith and asks that the six newly recruited players be declared ineligible until the IHSA can investigate the alleged recruiting violations.