Ten Fairfax basketball players and their parents had expected to leave at 8 a.m. yesterday for Kansas City to play in the Amateur Athletic Union's Junior Olympics national basketball tournament for 12-year-old boys.
But at 1 a.m., parents of the players began receiving phone calls from AAU officials in Virginia and Kansas City informing them the Fairfax County team had been declared ineligible because a transfer rule allegedly was violated.
The 14-year-old Fairfax team, which was scheduled to play Wednesday night in Charleston, W.Va., also was declared ineligible.
The situation has left youngsters, parents and local officials in a state of confusion.
"I really couldn't believe that we weren't going to Kansas City," said 12-year-old Jamie Lewis of Fairfax. "We had won the Virginia basketball championship by beating the best teams in the state and we all wanted to go to the national tournament real bad."
So why were his team and the 14-year-old team disqualified?
The complex situation began a year ago when the Fairfax teams were part of the Potomac Valley AAU Association.
The Fairfax players decided after last year's tournament that they would rather play in the Virginia AAU Association tournment this season.
So the players and their parents said they went about transferring associations through AAU guidelines, which require the Fairfax teams to request a release form from the Potomac Valley AAU.
Gregory Richter, the Virginia AAU representative said yesterday, "The registration committees of both the Potomac and Virginia AAU Associations approved the request, and the Potomac Valley registration chairman, Peter Miller, signed the release forms."
The problem arose, Richter said, because "The Potomac Valley AAU board of managers overruled Miller's decision, declaring the transfer illegal.
However, Miller said last night, "I don't think I signed any waiver or release."
Pearlie McDaniel, secretary of the Potomac Valley AAU Association board of managers, said the board "does not have the power to overrule the registration chairman, anyway."
The national administrator for AAU Junior programs claimed the board of managers declared the teams ineligible May 22 and local AAU officials didn't notify players, parents or coaches immediately.
The administrator, Jerry Duhamell, said the national officials cannot supercede the decisions made by the local AAU associations.
But Richter said he talked to Duhamell Thursday and was not told of the ruling. Richter, whose son plays on the 14-year-old team said he would have no reason for withholding any information.
Rudy Gasser, coach of the 14-year-olds, said there is no reason for the Fairfax team to be "sitting at home suffering, because I have 12 release forms signed by Miller right here in my hand approving our request for release."
Several parents of Fairfax basketball players, including Richter, said Duhamell told them James Wiggins, Potomac Valley basketball commissioner complained at a board of managers meeting that the Fairfax teams were illegally registered and should not be eligible to play in the Junior Olympic tournament.