The tournament director for the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic basketball program said yesterday he does not have the authorization to reinstate in the tournament a team of 12-year-olds from Fairfax County that was told early Tuesday morning it was ineligible.
Jim Rusconi, the tournament director who is in Kansas City for the annaual event, said, "The national AAU office (in Indianpolis) is in control of the eligibility."
"Jerry Duhamell (the national administrator for the AAU Junior Olympics program) told me this morning that the Fairfax teams were not eligible according to AAU rules. As far as I know, Duhamell declared them ineligible and he has the final decision," Rusconi said. Duhamell could not be reached for comment.
The Fairfax team of 14-year-olds is also ineligible, according to local AAU officials.
Administrative confusion among national and local AAU officials apparently caused the two teams to be declared ineligible for the national tournament sin Kansas City and Charleston, W. Va.
Fairfax teams had previously requested a transfer from the Potomac Valley AAU to the Virginia association.
That request was denied by James Wiggins, PVAAU basketball chairman, according to Peter Miller, PVAAU registration chairman.
Virginia AAU representative Gregory Ritcher had given parents of the Fairfax players photocopy release forms containing the signature of Peter Miller.
However, Miller yesterday produced original transfer requests for the Fairfax teams that were not signed.
"I did not sign any request waiving the Fairfax boys teams from the Potomac Valley AAU Association," Miller said upon presenting the original unsigned requests. "Mr. Wiggins, as the basketball chairman, denied the request."
A subsequent meeting of the PVAAU board of managers was held and Pearlie McDaniel, board secretary, said, "The motion was approved to deny the transfer by a simple majority."
Richter, who was at the board meeting, said he left the meeting not knowing the Fairfax teams' transfer request had been denied.
"The meeting was very confusing," Richter said."I don't remember them (the board) taking a vote. Nobody ever told me anything and I didn't get a letter saying the kids were ineligible."
National AAU officials and local PVAAU members, including Miller, have said it was Richter's responsibility to inform players, coaches and parents that the Fairfax teams would have to compete in the Potomac Valley tournament in order to qualify for the nationals.
National officials also contributed to the mixup.
Patrick Metress, a parent of a Fairfax player, said he has a letter from the Missouri Valley AAU Association, dated June 11, saying the Virginia representative had been placed to play a Texas team last night in Rockhurst College in Kansas City.
"Apparently, the AAU officials are not in contact with each other," Metress said. "If a meeting on May 22 denied our transfer request, we shouldn't have been paired with a team in a schedule sent out on June 11."
Metress was among a group of parents that went to Dulles Airport yesterday morning after deciding to go to Kansas City to "force the issue with tournament officials."
But Assistant Coach Jim Kelly called the airport and left a message telling the group to stay at home because AAU officials had no intentions of allowing the Fairfax team to compete.