In their joint press release Thursday, Dayton Public Schools and the Ohio High School Athletic Association tried to emphasize “closure” — that the Dunbar basketball eligibility case had been wrapped up.
But numerous questions remain, both regarding what actually happened, and what the fallout will be now.
What will happen to Dunbar’s basketball team/players?
With the team banned from the 2019 postseason, will some Dunbar athletes transfer to other schools — either within Dayton Public Schools, or to another district?
Dunbar has a proud basketball history, including multiple state titles (most recently 2012), and a state final four trip in 2015. But it’s possible 2019 could be a challenging year for the Wolverines.
Under current rules, if Dunbar players transferred, they would have to sit out the first half of next season unless they met one of OHSAA’s exceptions, the most common of which is a legitimate family move.
On high school sports websites, some fans have argued that 2018 Dunbar players (not just the school) be ineligible for the 2019 postseason, but the OHSAA made no mention of that in its list of penalties.
Also, a vote is coming soon on a new OHSAA rule that would require transfers to sit out the second half of the season, and the tournament, in the first season after they transfer without meeting an exception.
What will happen to DPS athletic staff?
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli has said she doesn’t expect any firings, but did say “some personnel changes” will be implemented for the next school year.
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. Lolli would not say whether Dunbar head coach Chuck Taylor will be back in that role next year.
Lolli also said DPS has been working on a redesign of its athletic department. It’s unclear whether Mark Baker will still be the overall athletic director when that redesign is complete, or when DPS families will hear about the new structure.
Did anybody ask the athlete in question what happened?
This news outlet has not named the player at the center of the eligibility dispute. The whole issue in this case came down to whether he left the bench and went onto the court for a Jan. 10 brawl in the Dunbar-Thurgood Marshall JV game. Dunbar was reinstated when OHSAA couldn’t prove via video that he was on the court. DPS apologized Thursday when new evidence proved he did participate in the fight.
Lolli went out of her way Thursday morning to say that player should not be blamed. But DPS has not yet answered a question from later Thursday, of whether DPS officials asked the player directly whether he was on the court, and if so, what he said.
It’s hard to imagine DPS didn’t ask him, since their attorney, Brian Wildermuth, strongly criticized an OHSAA staffer in court in March for not taking that very step.
Where did the new video come from and where is it now?
The case turned when someone submitted new video and photos to OHSAA showing the player in question on the court, participating in the fight. But neither side has said who specifically came forward with that evidence, and neither side says they have a copy of it today.
Lolli said only that the evidence came from people who were at the Jan. 10 game. She said OHSAA and DPS officials viewed it together in a meeting.
Will the DPS-OHSAA relationship change?
Lolli had a lot of strong words for the OHSAA after the court’s March 6 ruling — that DPS did nothing wrong at the varsity level, that OHSAA appeared to be out to get Dunbar and DPS, and that OHSAA did not research its own claims, among other things.
It has now been revealed that DPS did make a mistake at the varsity level, that there was a legitimate reason for Dunbar to be removed from the tournament, and that DPS’ own research into the incident didn’t find the right answer.
OHSAA Executive Director Dan Ross said very positive things about Lolli on Thursday, saying, “it has been a pleasure working with her.” With Ross about to retire, and DPS on districtwide probation for two major violations in the past two years, the next year of interaction between DPS and OHSAA could be significant.
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