Wilson High boys’ basketball Coach Angelo Hernandez is on administrative leave while D.C. Public Schools investigates whether all of his players live in the Northwest Washington school’s zone, he confirmed to The Washington Post in a brief phone interview last week.
Hernandez, who led the Tigers to D.C. city and state championships this past winter and has had recent success with adding transfer players, said his ban started more than three weeks ago in mid-April but he hasn’t received an explanation for a potential infraction.
A person with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing process, said the investigation is focused on at least two players’ residencies and could take about six months to complete. Hernandez has coached at Wilson for 10 years and has been the head coach of the boys’ team for the past four years; he also holds the role of Wilson’s pathways coordinator. Should he be found in violation of a rule, he could face termination or a fine.
In response to a question about the status of the investigation and Hernandez, DCPS deputy press secretary Ashlynn Profit provided the following emailed statement Monday: “We cannot discuss the specifics of the personnel matter but when issues are found or brought to our attention, we review them and act in the best interest of our students.”
Wilson Principal Kimberly Martin and Athletic Director Mitch Gore did not return multiple requests to comment. Hernandez said Friday that if he knew what DCPS was investigating, “I don’t think I would be out.”
“They [DCPS] don’t know because I don’t know, so nobody could possibly know,” Hernandez said. “My lawyer doesn’t even know, so we’re all trying to figure out the same thing.”
When asked about the allegation of players living outside the school zone, Hernandez responded: “Right now, I think it’s a witch hunt. But hey, I don’t know for sure. Nobody really knows, to be honest. Nobody. And that’s the bad thing about it. That nobody knows. Not me.
“I mean, only the people that have put me on leave would know, so I don’t know who that is. I don’t even know who’s doing the investigation, supposedly.”
The investigation comes a few months after Hernandez’s team completed a historic championship run and he received The Post’s All-Met Coach of the Year recognition.
The Tigers went undefeated in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association and beat Theodore Roosevelt for the league championship. Wilson then defeated Theodore Roosevelt, Gonzaga and St. John’s, the latter two among the area’s top private high school basketball teams, for the first D.C. State Athletic Association title in team history.
Two transfer players were consistent contributors throughout the season. Junior guard Jay Heath, a 2017-18 All-Met honorable mention, and sophomore forward Dimingus Stevens transferred to Wilson from O’Connell before the year.
The Tigers also expect two high-profile transfers to bolster their frontcourt next season. Makhi and Makhel Mitchell, twin 6-foot-9 power forwards who orally committed to the University of Maryland for the Class of 2019, returned to the Washington area after playing last season at national champion Montverde Academy (Fla.). The rising seniors enrolled at Wilson in early April, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, and attended Bishop McNamara in District Heights, Md., before their season at the Florida prep school.
The handbook of the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association for 2017-18 states that every player must submit a residency verification form to be eligible to play, while transfer students wanting to participate in athletics must meet one of several criteria, including proof of permanent residency in the school’s district, to be immediately eligible.
Jesse Dougherty contributed to this report.