The months-long struggle between Dayton Public Schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association over the eligibility of Dunbar High School’s boys basketball team came to an end Thursday.
NEW TODAY: Dayton admits it was wrong in Dunbar fight
DPS admitted it had been wrong about the key fact at the core of the issue – an unnamed basketball player participated in an on-court fight Jan. 10, meaning he was ineligible when he played for Dunbar in a later tournament game.
Here are five key things to know:
What did DPS admit Thursday?
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said that a Dunbar player who appeared in a first-round tournament game should have been ineligible, so OHSAA’s original move to disqualify Dunbar from the tournament was the right one. Lolli said OHSAA and DPS only learned the truth after a court had already reinstated Dunbar, when people went to the OHSAA with cell phone video showing that the player did participate in the Jan. 10 fight. Previous video had been less clear.
Who was harmed by this?
When the OHSAA originally removed Dunbar from the tournament, they put Thurgood Marshall – another DPS school – in Dunbar’s place. That’s because Thurgood was the last team that Dunbar had beaten in the tournament.
When DPS sued, and a judge ruled in the district’s favor, Thurgood was out, and Dunbar back in.
Then, in their next game, Dunbar faced Bishop Fenwick High School, from Middletown. Fenwick had to wait multiple days, as the court process delayed the game, then Fenwick lost to Dunbar by one point and was eliminated.
What penalties will DPS face?
Dunbar’s boys team is banned the 2019 postseason basketball tournament. The overall OHSAA probation for Dayton Public Schools – stemming from a 2016 football scandal – is extended through June 2020.
Probation specifically for Dunbar will run through 2022. DPS also will reimburse the OHSAA’s court costs, fees and expenses related to the March court hearing.
Is anybody being fired?
That’s complicated. Lolli said “some personnel changes” will be implemented for the next school year, but she would not go into detail. She said embattled Athletic Director Mark Baker has been working on a redesign of the athletic department. Asked whether that meant DPS was committed to Baker as athletic director going forward, Lolli gave a response that did not answer the question.
Asked later whether she expected to fire anyone, Lolli said no. That would appear to mean Baker will remain employed, as his athletic director contract runs through June 2019.
But coaches and the athletic directors for individual schools work on one-year “supplemental contracts” that are up for review each year. The district could replace some of those staffers without technically firing anyone.
What did people have to say?
Lolli acknowledged the gravity of the situation.
“We owe an apology to Bishop Fenwick High School, Thurgood Marshall High School and the OHSAA,” Lolli said in a joint press release issued by the OHSAA. “We have taken corrective measures to address the situation. We appreciate the OHSAA’s cooperation and compassion during this situation. We know that removal of Dayton Public Schools’ membership in the OHSAA was an option.”
OHSAA Executive Director Dan Ross complimented Lolli’s recent work.
“Our staff was convinced by the evidence they had in making their original decision that the youngster came off the bench when the fight broke out,” Ross said in the same release. “Once new evidence was obtained and shared with Dr. Lolli, she immediately knew that it was a very serious matter and wanted to work with the OHSAA to make the needed corrections. It has been a pleasure working with her, and we trust that nothing like this will happen again at Dayton Public Schools.”