High school basketball star Earl Jones was denied a preliminary injunction last night that would have allowed him to participate in D.C. interscholastic athletics this semester.
Superior Court Judge Shellie Bowers made the ruling after a 7 1/2-hour hearing.
Jones, who was declared ineligible for basketball this semester when he transferred from Mount Hope (W. Va.) high school to Spingarn, filed suit because he felt he was denied due process.
Bowers gave several reasons why he refused to grant the 6-foot-10, two-time All-America the injunction, the most significant reason being that Jones would not suffer any irreparable arm from missing varsity athletics this semester.
"There was no evidence presented at all that would show where, if Jones was not allowed to play at Spingarn this semester, he would jeopardize in any way his getting a college scholarship or maybe a pro offer," said Bowers.
"Even without a ruling by ths court, he would be able to play in February. He has played several games (three) since these proceedings began and has received considerable exposure and publicity during those games.
"The plaintiff (Jones) has failed to show why an injunctive relief should be allowed," Bowers continued. "If I allowed this injunction, Jones might believe he is just a basketball player and doesn't need to go to school. That would be tragic. He may be jolted by this decision now but i hope in the long run the resolution I make will help undo some of the harm already done to him.
"He is not a product to be marketed or exploited," continued Bowers. "It's an insult to Earl Jones to characterize him as just a basketball player and ignore the fact that he is capable of otherwise contributing to this society. He is a human being with feelings and a mind for growth who happens to also be a basketball player."
Jones sat passively throughout the proceedings, then said he was not surprised at the result.
"I expected this decision," Jones said. "It was a wasted day."
Jones' attorney, B. Franklin Kersey, said he would consider what options are still open to his client before the final hearing takes place sometime in January.
Jones said he was not looking forward to coming back to court and would just as soon wait until the second semester to play.
Jones, his guardian William (Doc) Robinson and Kersey are scheduled to meet with Interhigh League Athletic Director Otto Jordan next Wednesday to discuss the question of Jones' ineligibility. The senior was ruled ineligible because he missed two-thirds of classes his previous semester at Mount Hope, in violation of newly implemented rules.
Kersey said the meeting will be meaningless because Jordan had a part in rendering Jones ineligible in November and, according to Kersey, will be merely going through the motions of listening to Jones' right to a grievance appeal.