Wilson girls advance to DCIAA semifinals amid questions of eligibility

By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 10:52 AM

Following a 50-24 victory over Ballou on Wednesday night, Wilson's girls' basketball team is prepared to play four-time defending champion H.D. Woodson in Thursday's D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association semifinals at Coolidge. Whether the Tigers should have even been in the playoffs to begin with,however, is in question.

An official from another school alerted the DCIAA on Tuesday that one of Wilson's players had played earlier this season at Pallotti before transferring. Later that day, the player was deemed ineligible. According to DCIAA rules (Rule 2701.3(o) of the D.C. Municipal Record), "Students may represent only one (1) school in the same sport during a school year."

The player sat out Wednesday's game, but suited up in four Wilson victories since transferring. According to league rules (Rule 2701.8 of the D.C. Municipal Record), a team must forfeit any game in which an ineligible player participates.

If it had forfeited those four victories over DCIAA West Division opponents, then Wilson, the division's runner-up, would have fallen behind both Dunbar, School Without Walls and fifth-place Theodore Roosevelt, and missed the playoffs. Only the top four teams in each division advance to the postseason.

According to Wilson Coach Eric White, the school submitted eligibility forms for the player to the DCIAA office in January, when the player enrolled at Wilson. White said the league office cleared her, and she first suited up for the Tigers in their Feb. 4 game against Theodore Roosevelt.

"I told them I had a new transfer come in, and she had [eligible] grades. She couldn't play, though, until we got the okay from the [DCIAA] office," White said, noting that the player sat out three games after she enrolled before gaining league clearance. "I wasn't going to jeopardize the rest of my kids.

"The only rule I thought was you couldn't transfer from another DCIAA school" and stay eligible for the rest of the season."

DCPS Athletic Director Marcus Ellis referred all questions Wednesday evening to the DCPS Office of General Counsel.

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