Vancouver basketball disqualification ‘cruel and heavy punishment to a group of kids’: coach

A Grade 10 basketball team’s disqualification from the Vancouver City Championship is prompting outcry from parents and coaches who say the decision goes too far.

A Grade 10 basketball team’s disqualification from the Vancouver City Championship is prompting outcry from parents and coaches who say the decision goes too far.

Kitsilano Secondary’s Junior Basketball team was booted from the tournament by Vancouver Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association because one of the boys on the team was deemed to be an ineligible player.

It’s because during the regular season, the student in question played for a different school last season.

“I don’t know him from any other kid, he was just one of the kids who showed up at tryouts and earned a spot on our team,” Junior Boys Coach Kenny MacIntyre recalled of the 15-year-old when he arrived at Kitsilano Secondary.

Kitsilano Secondary disqualified after quarterfinal win

“The first date we found out was the last day of our season, so we had no recourse, we couldn’t go back in time. As far as we knew, okay, he’s ineligible, going forward we can’t play with him. They’re just kids, they’re 15-year-old kids, we’re not signing Michael Jordan here,” MacIntyre added.

Kitsilano Secondary school basketball team

There is outrage over the disqualification of Kitsilano Secondary’s boys basketball team from the Vancouver City Championship. (CityNews Image)

Without the boy, MacIntyre says the team went on and played their first City Championship game, winning. The next day, the team was told they were out due to the ineligible player — even though he didn’t play in the tournament.

“He played in the regular season but our regular season ended after we had found out the information from the administration that he couldn’t play. It seems like cruel and heavy punishment to a group of kids and a teen when this is not about fairness, it’s just about an agenda it seems like. I don’t know what it’s about,” MacIntyre, who’s trained with Basketball Canada and been part of the community for years, said.

“I tried and tried to get a hold of anyone yesterday who would listen.”

BC School Sports Executive Director Jordan Abney explains, under the rules, students must sit out for a year after transferring schools — and there’s a reason for that.

“It’s trying to disincentivize athletically motivated transfers and sort of protect the integrity of school sports and the core purpose of, you go to school and you compete for that school that you are enrolled at,” he said of the policy.

Though he says the Vancouver Secondary Schools’ Athletic Association was the one to issue the decision, Abney tells CityNews the rules are in place to ensure balance.

“It’s always a tricky balance to find the right spot there, but the core transfer rule starts with the fact that if you transfer schools, you’re ineligible for the sports you’ve played in the year preceding the transfer for one year from the date of transfer,” he explained.

“Now, with that said, there are a bunch of legitimate reasons that we have identified in our policies that would allow that student to compete right away. We’ve tried to put in the right stop-gaps to prevent abuse but also the right allowances for when it’s necessary.”

‘This isn’t college’

MacIntyre suggests the student in question transferred from a private school to a public school in his catchment area for financial reasons.

The ultimate decision, he adds, went too far.

“This isn’t college, they’re not paid players, we’re not recruiting. This is a kid who lives across the street wanting to go play basketball. It’s nuts,” MacIntyre said.

“A lot of people fought for [the team] and none of them were at the VSB or BC School Sports level. No one answered, everyone just ignored it. I had to walk into a mental health crisis and walk in and tell 15 kids your hopes and dreams are ruined for this year. Sorry, it’s an executive decision. Fifteen-year-olds don’t even know what an executive is, they shouldn’t know what an executive is.”

Kitsilano Secondary Junior Boys Basketball coach Kenny MacIntyre stands on a dock holding a basketball

MacIntyre isn’t the only one airing his disappointment.

Other parents on the team also feel the situation could have been handled in a better way.

“I’m devastated, I think this is one of the cruelest things I’ve ever had to deal with as a parent with regard to how my son and his teammates were treated,” Rob Meekison, a parent of another player on the Kitsilano Secondary Grade 10 team, said.

He says he reached out to officials to try to get answers but never heard back.

“There was no attempt to put things into context as to what actually happened,” Meekison said. “I really get concerned about the mental health of the kids and how they trust these people to make the best decisions — they’re children — with them in mind. For them to work so hard to get to this point and then, through nothing that they’ve done wrong, they get the rug pulled out from underneath them.”

While Meekison says he understands the purpose of the rules, he tells CityNews how they were enforced in this case just didn’t feel right.

“From my point of view, there was no effort to determine if this was recruitment, if this was simply an error in paperwork if this was people not understanding the rules. I didn’t know this rule until yesterday. You can say the school administrators need to know these things but these guys are under a pile of paperwork and one student slips through. I can understand the poor kid not playing but then to punish the entire team and the school and the tournament and take out one of the best competitors I think is a pretty harsh reaction,” he said.

Vancouver School Board made aware of eligibility violation in February: Statement

MacIntyre claims the team went about filling out the necessary paperwork to try to get everything above board once they found out about the issue.

“In January, our season starts and the paperwork’s being done in the same timeline, we received word back from BC School Sports who governs eligibility that he is deemed ineligible based on the requirements that they put forward,” he told CityNews.

While the decision came as a surprise to MacIntyre, he says the team appealed that decision. This month, the ineligibility ruling was upheld, he adds.

However, the Vancouver School Board says in a statement “the Vancouver Secondary Schools (sic) Athletic Association (VSSAA) and BC School Sports were made aware of the team’s eligibility violation on the evening of February 15.”

“VSSAA then made the decision to withdraw the team from the playoff tournament hosted at Kitsilano Secondary, to ensure all schools and teams have a fair opportunity to play and compete,” an email from the VSB reads.

“All school sport teams in the District are subject to eligibility and transfer rules as outlined by BC School Sports. After the Kitsilano Junior Boys basketball team was notified that a player was ineligible and told of the actions required to address the situation by BC School Sports, no actions were taken.”

MacIntyre has shown CityNews an e-mail he sent to BC School Sports on the eligibility issue dated Jan. 23, 2022, suggesting that the body at least knew about the potential issue weeks before the tournament. He says he was notified on Feb. 6 that the school’s appeal to let the player play failed, but nothing was communicated to him that it would disqualify his team from participation in the city championship

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today