Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie was ruled eligible Thursday following a PIAA appeals hearing in Mechanicsburg, reversing two previous rulings by the WPIAL and one by the PIAA that had kept the basketball standout sidelined.
The five-person panel voted, 3-2, in Minnie's favor, said Lincoln Park athletic director Mike Bariski, clearing Minnie to make his debut Friday night against OLSH.
“Elijah had big tears,” Bariski said. “All kinds of tears. The family that was there supporting him cheered.”
The 6-foot-8 junior from Monessen initially was ruled ineligible Oct. 3 when the WPIAL's board of control decided his transfer was athletically motived. That decision was upheld by the PIAA on Nov. 15 when a five-person appeals board agreed.
Minnie was granted a second WPIAL hearing Dec. 17. New evidence was presented there by Minnie and Lincoln Park officials intended to refute earlier claims that he was recruited to the Beaver County charter school. But the WPIAL again ruled him ineligible, this time in part because Minnie had not considered schools closer to home.
That led to Thursday's three-hour hearing with the PIAA.
“They thought the new evidence was compelling in our favor,” Bariski said. “One of the jurors who had voted ineligible the first time changed his mind.”
Minnie averaged 15.5 points last season for Summit Academy, a school in Butler County for delinquent teenage boys. Once his stay there was complete, Minnie enrolled at Lincoln Park rather than returning to Monessen.
“It was a close vote, and I don't think we can appeal an appealed decision,” Monessen Principal Brian Sutherland said. “As far as I'm concerned, the case is closed.”
Staff writer Jeff Oliver contributed. Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
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