7 Curie players ineligible, team to forfeit title and 24 wins - FOX 35 News Orlando

7 Curie basketball players ineligible, team to forfeit title and 24 wins

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Curie, the No. 1-ranked team in the state and No. 2 in the country, according to USA Today, was stripped of its 24 victories and the city championship Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

A Chicago Public Schools investigation revealed that seven basketball players were ineligible since the beginning of the season. The players were not named. CPS will not name a city champion this season.

CPS says Curie is eligible to compete in the state tournament, which begins Monday, because the Illinois High School Association and CPS have different eligibility requirements. Condors coach Mike Oliver will be suspended for an amount of time to be determined by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

An anonymous email to CPS triggered the investigation into the eligibility of Curie basketball players hours before the Condors were scheduled to play Young for the city title Feb. 21 in a game broadcast live on ESPN3.com.

It's clear that CPS officials' initial probe uncovered enough eligibility issues to delay Curie's arrival at Chicago State, site of the title game. The decision to let Curie play was a practical one — the arena was full and a live broadcast crew was waiting.

The four-overtime game was an all-time classic featuring Chicago's best big men in a generation, Young's Jahlil Okafor and Curie's Cliff Alexander. The highlights led the late edition of SportsCenter.

Rumors about the investigation floated around the city all day Saturday. On Sunday evening, CPS confirmed to the Sun-Times that an investigation was under way. The inquiry dragged on all week. For three days, CPS representatives claimed the investigation was drawing to a close, but there was no announcement until Friday evening.

"I feel bad for the kids, the school, the entire program," Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. "Mike [Oliver] is a good man. This is scathing."

"I'm glad they didn't award it to us. We lost the ballgame on the court. We didn't want it. We would not accept it if they did award it to us because we did not win the game."

The IHSA would not confirm that Curie would be allowed to play in the state tournament. Sectional play begins Monday; Curie's first game is scheduled for Tuesday.

"We are unable to make an official comment until reviewing the final report from the CPS athletic administration on the investigation," IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a statement. "We hope to be in a position to do so by Monday."

"Chicago Public Schools has a proud tradition of athletic competition and sportsmanship, but our No. 1 responsibility to our students is providing them with a solid academic foundation that will serve them the rest of their lives," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "A district investigation into the academic eligibility of members of the Curie Metropolitan High School boys varsity basketball team found that a number of the players are academically ineligible to compete and, as a result, their season must be forfeited. As adults, educators and mentors, it is our responsibility to teach our students right from wrong and, unfortunately, the adults let these student-athletes down by failing to do that and comply with CPS policies."

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