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Monessen protests Minnie transfer

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Elijah Minnie, left, shown in a 2011 summer league basketball game, transferred from Monessen to Lincoln Park after playing at Summit Academy last season. Monessen officials challenged the move, and Minnie was ruled ineligible by the WPIAL. He is appealing to the PIAA. File photo
Top high school sports
Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

If Elijah Minnie plays basketball this season on the varsity level, he will do so for the third different school in as many years.

If Monessen has its way, that won't happen.

Minnie, a talented 6-8 junior, transferred to Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland, prior to the start of the current school year.

Monessen officially protested the transfer this week, said Principal Brian Sutherland, and a hearing will be held on the issue before the WPIAL Board of Control in the coming weeks.

Sutherland said that both Lincoln Park and the WPIAL have been made aware of the protest.

Minnie played for Monessen as a freshman before a knee injury ended his season early. He averaged just under 10 points in six games for the Greyhounds as a freshman

During the 2010-11 school year, Minnie was at Summit Academy, a private school in Butler County for delinquent young men ages 14-18. Minnie was placed at Summit in 2011.

Minnie played basketball for Summit Academy last season and helped lead the team to a 17-5 record and a trip to the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. He averaged 15.5 points per game last season and is considered one of the premier players in the WPIAL going into the upcoming season.

“Elijah has always been considered a student of the Monessen School District,” Sutherland said. “After his time was up at Summit, he reverted back to our district and that's where Lincoln Park came into the picture. Our district is responsible for paying his tuition to that school.”

Sutherland did not want to tip his hand, but he said he has spent plenty of hours putting together the district's case against Minnie's transfer to the school, which is located 79.6 miles away from Monessen.

“I'm very confident with our case,” Sutherland said. “We just didn't throw this together. We did a lot of fact finding and we are still getting more information even now.”

While he did not get into specifies, Sutherland did say that the district feels that Minnie was recruited by the charter school and that his reason for going there was highlighted by a relationship he has with another student, who he plays AAU basketball with and who also goes to Lincoln Park.

“We have called into question his transfer on the pretense that he is following another student to Lincoln Park due to a relationship the two have on the AAU team BSA Elite,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland also noted that Lincoln Park is a school for the performing arts and said, “Nowhere in Elijah's transcripts is there any evidence that he studied or showed an interest in the performing arts.”

Sutherland also noted that there are 14 charter schools in closer proximity to Monessen than Lincoln Park, but he added that none of them have a basketball team.

Sutherland added that Minnie has two brothers who are still students in the Monessen School District.

“We're ready to fight this and we will do so to the best of our ability,” Sutherland said of the transfer.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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