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SoCalHoops High School News

All The Other Reasons: Compton
Centennial Forfeits 11 Games--(Jan. 30, 2001)

Ok, now back to reality. . . .

Compton Centennial, who the Daily Breeze first reported last Friday would have to forfeit an undetermined number of games for using an ineligible player, will forfeit 11 games and it's star player, Tony Key will be ineligible for the remainder of the season, according to a story in today's Long Beach Press Telegram written by staff writer Ted Kian.   According to the article, Centennial's participation in the post-season playoffs is also in doubt at this moment, and will be reviewed further by the Section office.

Here's the story:

Apache boys to forfeit games

By Ted Kian
Long Beach Telegram
Staff writer

In a mutual agreement reached between officials from Centennial High and the California Interscholastic Federation, the powerful Apaches' boys varsity basketball team has forfeited 11 of its 19 victories from this season for using an ineligible player in 14 of the team's 22 games. 

Tony Key, a 6-foot-11, 270-pound post player who was one of several talented transfers who joined the Centennial program prior to this season, is no longer eligible to play for Centennial, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the CIF-SS Division III-AA.

Key, a senior who leads the Apaches with per-game averages of 23 points and 11 rebounds, moved from Kentucky to Compton last summer to live with his aunt, who is not his legal guardian.

CIF-SS commissioner Jim Staunton said that high school students must live with a parent(s) or legal guardian to be eligible to compete in varsity athletics. Any other living accommodation must be approved by CIF officials. The CIF office was not made aware of Key's living situation before he began playing for Centennial.

Staunton said he became aware of Key's living status upon reading Key's comments in an article that was published in the Press-Telegram in December and by receiving several anonymous phone calls.

Despite winning 19 of its 22 games on the court this season, Centennial now has an official record of 8-14 after a 61-58 overtime victory against Culver City on Monday. Centennial coach Rod Palmer said that the Apaches would likely qualify for the playoffs if they win their remaining three Ocean League games, all of which Centennial is a strong favorite to win even without Key.

However, Staunton said that the CIF-SS Executive Committee would hold a meeting on Feb. 7 to determine Centennial's eligibility for the postseason. Staunton said that he is concerned about a "pattern" of ineligibility problems arising in the Centennial boys basketball program.

Palmer was hired as Centennial's boys athletic director and basketball coach prior to the 1999-2000 academic year, following his successful stint as Compton High's boys basketball coach.

Centennial had to forfeit five early-season victories last season for an error involving the paperwork of several players who transferred to Centennial from Compton before the academic year.

Under Palmer's leadership in the 1996-97 season, Compton High had to forfeit 24 victories and the school's first Moore League title since 1978 for playing guard Marcus Herring, who was participating in his fifth year of high school athletics.

"This is not a matter of wins and losses," Staunton said. "We're reviewing the fact that this is the second year in a row that they've had to forfeit games and I have a concern about that, as does the executive committee."

Centennial principal Todd Irving said that he is hopeful that Key's eligibility will be restored. He mentioned the possibility of flying in the player's mother from Kentucky to make a personal appeal in front of CIF-SS officials.

Staunton, however, said that a player in Key's case is only granted eligibility in rare situations, such as when a parent of a player dies and that forces the player to move in with someone who is not his or her guardian.

"To be eligible for a hardship case, you have to have an unforeseeable, unavoidable and uncorrectable act or condition, which imposes a severe and non-athletic burden upon the student or his or her family," Staunton said.

Palmer referred to Key as a "big-time" college prospect and said that he is still being recruited by a number of major colleges, despite his departure from the team.

"We have a good team and we'll be all right without him, but I'm still going to help (Key) in any way I can," Palmer said. "This is not a big deal. You have to play by the rules. We found out the (information) and submitted it to them.

"I don't think the CIF is out to get people. They worked very well with us in trying to resolve this problem."

Irving said that Key remains enrolled at Centennial and that the school's administration will continue to support him even if his eligibility is not restored.

"The most important thing right now is that (Key) is in school, he's on track to graduate and taking SAT prep courses," Irving said. "I don't have any concerns about problems with our basketball program. Last year's problem was a technicality, but I can understand the CIF's concern." 

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