Football: Ballou Coach Jason Lane put on probation over eligibility of player

Ballou football Coach Jason Lane was placed on one-year probation Monday by the District of Columbia State Athletic Association after a two-week investigation found he had knowingly allowed a Friendship Collegiate student to participate in spring football practices at the Southeast school.

Friendship Collegiate officials filed a formal complaint to the DCSAA on June 20, which also alleged that Lane and the Ballou coaching staff had actively influenced the player away from Friendship Collegiate for athletic purposes. Friendship Collegiate provided three documents to support the claim, including an enrollment verification form, a copy of the team’s 2012 football roster and a copy of an article published by the Post on June 19, which details the college recruitment of rising sophomore Delonte Moore at Ballou.

Lane could not be reached for comment Monday.

The DCSAA, which worked with the DCIAA to investigate the matter, ruled that Lane broke State Athletic Office rules by allowing Moore to practice with the team this spring, therein competing for two schools in one academic year. Although Friendship Collegiate did not provide sufficient evidence that Lane actively influenced Moore to attend Ballou for athletic purposes (his last day of school was June 21), the SAO noted that “student eligibility is a direct responsibility of the head coach,” in a document released by the DCSAA Monday, which added “we can reasonably imply that the coaches knew or should have known that the student was not enrolled at Ballou during the current school year, but was enrolled at FCA.”

Moore is currently listed on an online version of Ballou’s 2013 roster. Ballou also provided the DCSAA with documentation that he is enrolled for the upcoming school year.

Monday marked the second time in less than a month that the DCSAA has leveled sanctions against a member school. Friendship Collegiate assistant Khenny Wonson was placed on probation June 10 after an investigation found he actively influenced a student to transfer to the charter school earlier this year.

“I handled it the exact same way,” DCSAA Director of Athletics Clark Ray said of the Friendship and Ballou investigations.

The SAO will conduct periodic visits to both Ballou and Friendship this year to review eligibility documentation, ensure schools are complying with transfer rules and spot check roster certification, Ray added, and those visits will be “unannounced, as the rules allow.”

Ray also addressed the sense of rivalry growing between DC public and charter schools regarding the last two investigations, which he said primarily occurs “on the playing field, as opposed to who is doing right and who is doing wrong.” Where there isn’t a rivalry is in governance, he said.

If Lane is found to have violated rules again within the one year-probation, Ballou’s eligibility for the DCSAA playoffs would be threatened. The investigation will not effect Moore’s eligibility to play for Ballou next season.

“I think for a number of years, there hasn’t been a real reason to have some of these schools in check. I mean, it was only the public school league, right? So they sort of policed themselves,” Ray said. “Now we’ve expanded to include the public charter schools, and the public schools, and some private schools are willing to participate. And I think folks realize now that we’re trying help create a balance, a level playing field.”

 
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