WPIAL again rules Lincoln Park basketball player ineligible
By Chris Harlan
Published: Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 6:10 p.m.
Lincoln Park's Elijah Minnie was ruled ineligible Monday for a second time by the WPIAL after the league's board of control re-evaluated the standout basketball player's case.
Mike Bariski, the charter school's athletic director, was notified of the league's decision following an afternoon hearing in Green Tree.
The 6-foot-8 junior was initially ruled ineligible Oct. 3 when the WPIAL decided that Minnie's transfer from Monessen was athletically motived. That original decision was upheld by the PIAA on Nov. 15 when a five-person appeals board agreed.
But the WPIAL allowed Lincoln Park an unusual opportunity to present new evidence Monday. With cell phone records and testimony from the mothers of two teammates, Lincoln Park tried to disprove previous WPIAL findings that basketball drew Minnie to the Beaver County school.
Yet, board members found it “was not substantial enough to reverse what they originally found,” said WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. The ruling was made in large part because Minnie and his family did not consider schools with lesser basketball programs that are closer to their home, a fact the PIAA also highlighted during its appeals process.
O'Malley said the WPIAL board reached a unanimous decision after 20 minutes of debate.
“I thought we put up a great case,” said Bariski, who expected to file paperwork Tuesday requesting another PIAA appeal.
The hour-long hearing was not closed to reporters. High school principal Brian Sutherland and solicitor John Toohey represented Monessen, which has strongly contested the transfer.
Minnie insisted during the hearing the transfer has been beneficial to his academic improvement and was not motivated by athletic intent.
“If I wanted to be a star, I would have stayed at Monessen and done whatever I wanted,” said Minnie, who averaged 15.5 ppg last year at Summit Academy.
Among those who testified were Ryan Skovranko, a West Mifflin resident who stars for Lincoln Park, and his mother, Christine. One issue was whether contact with Ryan Skovranko or others enticed Minnie to enroll at Lincoln Park, a school with a successful basketball program. Lincoln Park provided phone records that showed the first call from Skovranko to Minnie was after Minnie's first visit to the school's campus, Bariski said.
Minnie spent last year at Summit Academy, a school in Butler County for delinquent teenage boys. During Monday's hearing, his mother, Justina Minnie, described an environment of “drug trafficking and shootings” in Monessen that she wanted Minnie to avoid.
But WPIAL board members were not convinced that desire alone fueled the transfer because Minnie still resides in Monessen and they viewed those problems as community-oriented and not school-related, O'Malley said.
Justina Minnie said she could not move because of a mortgage arrangement with the city of Monessen. But, she also admitted a number of alternate schools closer than Lincoln Park were not considered.
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates agree with Barmes on 1-year deal
- Garden Theater developer says plans changing for block’s buildings
- Pirates claim 3 pitchers in minor league Rule 5 draft
- Peduto among mayors-elect to meet with Obama on Friday
- Human skeleton found in Bellevue
- No one injured in clothes dryer explosion
- Steelers notebook: Worilds loses sack; Big Ben gets 1st career catch
- Workshops educate students, dispel myths about mental illnesses
- Multi-Grammy-winning vocalist Bolton pleased to sing favorites, holiday tunes
- UPMC doctor killed trying to help at 50-vehicle pileup
- Motivated quarterback Roethlisberger fights to prop up Steelers