Friendship Collegiate football residency investigation deemed ‘inconclusive’

A D.C. State Athletic Association investigation of the residency and eligibility of four Friendship Collegiate football players was determined to be “inconclusive,” and neither the school nor the players will face punishment.

In a letter sent to Friendship Athletic Director Michael Hunter, DCSAA Executive Director Clark Ray notified the public charter school that the matter is closed and the “student-athletes’ athletic eligibility is considered valid and current.”

Ray first requested that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and D.C. Public Charter School Board investigate the matter in late August, after a review of Friendship Collegiate’s roster raised questions — including three players who had submitted “insufficient sworn statements by other primary caregivers” explaining their residency. All four players under investigation played at schools outside the District in 2012, including two who played at Maryland public schools last fall.

Ray was not available for comment.

Although the DCPCSB reviewed the matter, the body never conducted an investigation. The DCSAA took over and launched its own probe Nov. 14, according to DCSAA spokesperson Ayan Islam. The DCSAA worked with a private investigator and concluded the investigation in about four weeks, Islam added.

Hunter said the school fully cooperated with the investigation, providing further residency documentation that was requested by the DCSAA in August.

“We’re happy that everything’s over, that the investigation is closed. We did everything that was asked of us by the charter board and the DCSAA to make sure that all of our student-athletes were eligible and able to participate in any extracurricular activities,” Hunter said. “We were pretty confident that we followed the proper procedures and that everything would work itself out.”

Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazar Abdul-Rahim did not respond to a request for comment.

Although Ray notified Hunter in the letter that the matter is closed, he added that the DCSAA would consider any evidence presented in the future.

“DCSAA reserves the right to reopen this investigation if any new evidence and/or signed complaint lodged against Friendship Collegiate and/or any of its student-athletes is deemed viable,” Ray wrote.

Friendship Collegiate finished the season 7-5 and made its second consecutive appearance in the DCSAA AA title game in December, where it lost to H.D. Woodson. The four players in question continued to play throughout the season despite the probe, and Hunter said the presence of an investigation “wasn’t a distraction.”

It was at least the fourth time the school has been investigated by the DCSAA in the past year.

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