COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dayton Public Schools superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Lolli and Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Dr. Dan Ross have announced closure to the case involving Dunbar High School boys’ basketball during the 2017-18 season.
In March, Dayton Public Schools filed a lawsuit to block the OHSAA’s decision to remove Dunbar from the boys’ basketball tournament for using an ineligible player, which stemmed from Dunbar not suspending junior varsity players who left the bench during a fight in January.
The issue was whether one player, who later participated in a varsity tournament game, left the bench during the fight. The court sided with Dayton Public Schools, stating: “In reviewing the record upon which OHSAA based its decision, the Court finds that OHSAA’s decision is not supported by reliable, probative and substantial evidence.” The court further found “thus, as Coach Taylor testified, John Doe was already in the locker room hallway before the fight broke out.”
However, after the Court’s ruling, new evidence came to light, showing that the student-athlete left the bench and went into the fight.
DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS STATEMENT
“I would like to thank Dr. Ross and the OHSAA for working with us to find the truth in this situation,” Lolli said. “It is concerning that individuals with information about the incident did not feel comfortable coming forward before the court hearing. We owe an apology to Bishop Fenwick High School, Thurgood Marshall High School and the OHSAA. We have taken corrective measures to address the situation. We appreciate the OHSAA’s cooperation and compassion during this situation. We know that removal of Dayton Public Schools’ membership in the OHSAA was an option.”
“I was a superintendent for a long time, so I understand what Dr. Lolli has been going through with this,” Ross said. “Our staff was convinced by the evidence we had in making our original decision that the youngster came off the bench when the fight broke out. Once new evidence was obtained and shared with Dr. Lolli, she immediately knew that it was a very serious matter and wanted to work with the OHSAA to make the needed corrections. It has been a pleasure working with her and we trust that nothing like this will happen again at Dayton Public Schools.”
DAYTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS ACTION
Dayton Public Schools began reviewing athletic department structure and procedures immediately after this incident occurred. The District is in the process of making decisions about the athletic department and will be implementing changes over the next several weeks. Dr. Ross has been kept apprised of these discussions. DPS is committed to making certain that its coaches and administrators know and follow OHSAA rules, properly investigate incidents, and impose appropriate consequences for rule violations.
In addition, the OHSAA has handed down the following sanctions. Dunbar will not be permitted to participate in the 2019 boys’ basketball tournament and Dayton Public Schools will reimburse the OHSAA’s court costs, fees and expenses related to the March hearing. In addition, the OHSAA has extended the current probation period that all Dayton Public Schools are currently serving from a football incident in 2016. That probation is now extended through June 2020 for all DPS schools and through 2022 for Dunbar.
“For the last month, this has been an effort from both sides working together – the OHSAA and Dayton Public Schools,” Ross said. “I commend Dr. Lolli for working hard to do the right thing here and get to the truth. She cares deeply for Dayton Public Schools and understands how important this is for DPS moving forward.”