Ineligible Kenwood Academy basketball players, coaches' legal challenge against IHSA ruling denied

ByTre Ward and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, February 24, 2024
Kenwood Academy players, coaches challenge to IHSA ruling denied
The ineligible Kenwood Academy boy's basketball players and coaches filed a legal challenge Friday against IHSA's ruling. It was denied.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Five athletes and two coaches from the Kenwood Academy boy's basketball team asked a judge Friday for a temporary restraining order to allow them to rejoin their team in the state tournament. Their request was denied.

The IHSA ruled the team members ineligible Thursday over residency issues, but allowed the rest of the team to resume playing in the tournament.

Lawyers for the players and coaches involved in the lawsuit said they were denied their due process.

While the playoff game was underway, both sides argued their cases for hours. The judge handed down her decision well after the game was over.

"I'm feeling down. We had a good argument. We argued well in court, but the decision just didn't go our way," said Nathaniel Holcomb, attorney for the assistant coaches.

READ MORE | IHSA allows Kenwood boy's basketball team to play in state tournament; some coaches, athletes barred

Judge Sophia Hall sided with the IHSA's ruling that barred five Kenwood Academy players, the head coach and two assistant coaches from participating in the state tournament.

It all stems from an investigation by the CPS Inspector General's Office.

In court, lawyers for IHSA argued the executive director made the decision based on complaints that multiple players on the team used falsified documents or incorrect addresses to meet the residence requirements to attend the school.

The courtroom battle went on while the team was on the court playing against Oak Lawn, the barred players and coaches watching from the sidelines.

Kenwood clinched the win on the basketball court, but not in the courtroom.

Now they're one step closer to being state champions, but without those eight players and coaches.

"They just have to move forward as they have been and hopefully their team they have now can keep winning," Holcomb said.

The IHSA released a statement after the ruling, saying, "We appreciate Judge Hall allowing the IHSA to enforce the by-laws our member schools have voted into place, while also upholding the integrity of the State Series tournament. We are glad to be able to return the spotlight to the student-athletes who are competing around the state."