Possible conflict of interest for IHSA official in Mooseheart case

December 6, 2012 (CHICAGO)

In this ITeam report: questions about a conflict of interest for a top IHSA official.

Attorneys for Mooseheart High School say, for months, the IHSA waged a secret eligibility investigation of their African athletes. Mooseheart alleges it was all prompted by a rival high school.

Now, the ITeam has learned of a secret behind the secret IHSA investigation, a conflict of interest by the man who oversaw the case.

Kurt Gibson is the second in command at the Illinois High School Association that regulates all prep sports at more than 800 schools across the state. Last spring, when the IHSA opened an investigation of three Mooseheart basketball players from Sudan, it was assistant executive director Gibson who was in charge.

Gibson's investigation -- cloaked in secrecy -- followed a complaint by athletic officials at Hinckley-Big Rock High School and resulted in sanctions last week by the IHSA, which permanently banned the African students from playing basketball for alleged eligibility violations.

The edict came a few days before Mooseheart was to play archrival Hinckley-Big Rock.

In a sworn statement, IHSA Director Marty Hickman said there was no factual link between the investigation and anyone connected to Hinckley-Big Rock High School.

The ITeam has learned that Gibson, IHSA's man atop the investigation, is a former teacher and boy's athletic coach at Hinckley-Big Rock, for several years in the mid-1990s, according to his bio.

Gibson and his wife lived in Hinckley and started their family there.

Mooseheart attorneys from the law firm K&L Gates in Chicago are expected to file papers in Kane County court Friday pointing out the conflict.

A judge has already stopped the IHSA from enforcing its ban on the African players until a full hearing by the association board on Monday.

The I-Team has also found this: a statement from Hinckley-Big Rock High School in which they deny wrongdoing and respect the decision of the IHSA and the courts. But, the statement is dated November 28, one day before any decisions were publicly announced.

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