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Recruiting Questions Prompt IHSA to Boot Former Bolingbrook Coach from Playoffs

Former BHS girls basketball coach Tony Smith accused of improperly recruiting students from Bolingbrook, Plainfield.

By Lauren Traut

Homewood-Flossmoor's girls basketball team was booted from IHSA playoffs for bylaw violations as determined by the Illinois High School Association. 

The team forfeits its Wednesday night game against T.F. North, according to an IHSA release.

H-F will also automatically forfeit its regular season wins for this season, according to the report.

The violations came to light after Homewood-Flossmoor recently asked the IHSA to review the findings of its own internal investigation, which resulted from a lawsuit filed by one of its current players.

The lawsuit questioned the transfer of four of head coach Tony Smith’s former players from Bolingbrook. It also claims Smith promised the six new players’ parents their girls would have starting positions on the team and they would get help in getting athletic scholarships for college, according to reports. The IHSA has a rule that prohibits any recruiting no matter where the students live.

Six transfers are being challenged—four from Bolingbrook: Amarah Coleman, Destiny Harris, Kristen Moore and Lexi Smith. The other two transfers came from Marist (Bria Stallworth) and Plainfield East (Faith Suggs), according to Sun-Times Media reports.

The IHSA reportedly cleared the transfers before the season and declared them eligible.

Other bylaws in question involve a text message from Smith to players, promoting an "open gym," when some of the recipients of the message were not yet enrolled at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

Also at issue is a form signed by Smith indicating him as the head coach for a non-school team featuring 11 Homewood-Flossmoor players. The tournament occurred during the school year—when IHSA bylaws restrict the number of high school players that can compete on a non-school team. 

"Not adhering to these by-laws created a distinct advantage for the Homewood-Flossmoor girls’ basketball program,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “The school has admitted to violating IHSA bylaws. ... In fairness to the teams in the tournament who abided by IHSA rules, removing Homewood-Flossmoor from competition was the most equitable decision.” 

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said more violations, potentially involving other sports as well, may be discovered as the investigation continues. 

“We are still in the initial review of what occurred at the school and when,” said Hickman. “From the information provided thus far, other programs at the school may have also violated our Season Limitation and Open Gym by-laws. However, we will not know the full scope of the possible violations until we have completed our investigation. The investigation into the aforementioned recruiting violations is ongoing as well.”
Kristie February 19, 2014 at 11:09 PM
Three of the girls all listed the same address for their residency. Doesn't that seem a bit odd since IHSA regulations requires that a student athlete live with their custodial parent?
my opinion February 20, 2014 at 08:37 AM
The issue isn't residency, otherwise the Tuck girls who's house was in Plainfield school district wouldn't have been adle to play for BHS. The real issue is he got caught, key word "caught", coaching his team over the summer.
Reez February 20, 2014 at 05:37 PM
I've heard over the years that BHS has done the same thing with their sports programs - recruiting from other cities and towns. Isn't that why we've won so much? it's a known thing in the community, I thought. Interesting that that rumor followed a coach to another town.
TPC February 22, 2014 at 09:53 AM
This kind of thing happens in other places but rarely so blatantly. The violations he/they were actually penalized for are actually minor compared to the outright cheating he engaged in by orchestrating bringing players with him to a public high school for the sole purpose of playing basketball for him. And what is this "he's a young black coach with an outstanding record" garbage? He had an outstanding record because he cheats to have superior talent on his team. I'd have respect for him as a coach if he went to a program and won with the existing talent as opposed to bending and breaking rules to bring in talent. The truth is a scumbag is a scumbag no matter what the color of his skin is. His wins at both schools should be vacated. I feel sorry for the kids involved because they are simply following the lead of this dirtbag and their parents.
whatsgoingon February 23, 2014 at 10:42 PM
How many players did the "new" Coach Smith bring in with him?

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