Dunbar cries foul, prompts DCPS investigation of Ballou before Turkey Bowl

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 6:59 PM

Dunbar has filed a formal protest to the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association, challenging that Ballou used a player who should have been ruled academically ineligible in Saturday's 35-31 victory over Dunbar in the DCIAA semifinals.

DCIAA Executive Director Marcus Ellis confirmed a protest was filed and the DCPS central office is conducting an investigation, which, he said, prevented him from commenting further.

The Turkey Bowl, the DCIAA championship game, is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day at 11 a.m. While Ballou is scheduled to face two-time defending champion H.D. Woodson, Dunbar has been practicing all week as the investigation continues in case the Knights have to give up their spot.

In a requirement that had not been made in more than a decade, Ellis told schools prior to this season that he would demand the league's four football playoff teams submit grades following the end of the first term on Oct. 28 to determine each player's eligibility for the postseason. In previous years, players were able to stay eligible for the entire football season by being able to get a 2.0 grade-point average during the final advisory period of the preceding school year.

According to an email Ellis sent to each school's football coach and athletic director on Nov. 8, a copy of which was obtained by The Post,, the four teams were given a deadline of Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. to submit grades. Dunbar's protest said Ballou submitted one player's grades on Nov. 12. Dunbar Athletic Director Johnnie Walker said the player should not have been allowed to play in last Saturday's playoff game. Walker said his school kept four players off the field who became ineligible after the marking period ended.

Ellis "didn't follow the rules that he put in place," Walker said. "It was good that he wanted to enforce the rule, but he has to actually enforce it."

A DCPS source who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter said there were other teams that submitted grades on the Nov. 10 deadline and dressed those players for Saturday's semifinals.

Ballou Coach Moe Ware said, however, that the player in question was awaiting a mark in one class that was dependent upon work that had yet to be graded. Ware said that when he submitted grades to Ellis on Nov. 10, he asked for an extension.

Said Ware: "The teacher has the ultimate discretion in the education process. They don't know about the DCIAA playoff calendar. They're not on our timetable. ... There are situations where you have to show some flexibility."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company