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Chicago district still falling short on monitoring athletes

May 10, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) — The nation’s third-largest school district isn’t tracking academic eligibility of basketball players as well as it should, despite pledging to do better in the wake of a 2014 scandal, the Chicago Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

The Sun-Times looked into the issue a year after Chicago Public Schools stripped Curie Metro High School of its 2013-2014 city boys title for failing to submit the proper records demonstrating the eligibility of players. At the time, CPS vowed then to be more diligent.

Even though it is required to keep them on file, CPS couldn’t produce copies of eligibility sheets for most of the 480 games on the Chicago Public League conference this past season, the Sun-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1FdQ5yn ).

CPS insists it’s been better about monitoring eligibility even if it couldn’t prove that assertion. It also committed to keeping records digitally — rather than on paper — from now on.

“The district has taken steps to improve eligibility compliance across the district, but we recognize there is still work to be done,” CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

The blame does seem to lay with shoddy record keeping, at least in some cases.

Simeon coach Robert Smith and Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin exchanged eligibility sheets during a Dec. 14, 2014, game that a Sun-Times reporter and photographer witnessed for themselves. But CPS couldn’t even produce those records.

Smith said he submitted sheets for each of his team’s games, saying the Curie incident drove home the importance of doing so.

“They made our athletic director send every last one in,” Smith said. “It has to be there. We sent them in.”

Curie boys basketball coach Mike Oliver said the new findings showed the problem wasn’t isolated.

“It just goes to show it wasn’t us,” he said. “It is the system, the sports administration. How can they go a whole year and not keep checking up on this? It is unbelievable that it is the same issue as last year.”

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://chicago.suntimes.com/

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