Memorial transfer ruled eligible to play sports
MANCHESTER - Eight months after he transferred from Central High, Isaac Velez will finally be able to participate in interscholastic athletics for Memorial High.
However, another Manchester high school athlete will have to wait a little longer to find out his fate.
Patrick Corbin, executive director of the NHIAA, granted a waiver Wednesday allowing Velez to participate immediately in indoor track for Memorial. The sophomore was declared ineligible this fall after the NHIAA ruled he had transferred schools for athletic reasons.
Athletic eligibility comes into question when a student-athlete transfers for reasons other than his or her family moving into a new school district.
Velez was originally declared ineligible after playing four games for the Memorial football team. Velez had transferred schools in the spring, but his eligibility came into question in the fall after the NHIAA became aware of the situation.
Corbin said Memorial principal Arthur Adamakos and assistant principal Peter Perich recently asked him to review the case and allow them to present evidence supporting their claim that the family moved Velez to keep him out of trouble and help him academically. Velez was named to the first quarter honor roll at Memorial.
Corbin said he believes participating in athletics "is much more than x's and o's and athletic development. It's about life lessons. As a former principal, I am an advocate for that."
However, he said he is forced to sometimes make hard decisions that can sometimes seem contrary to that belief, which explains in part why he hasn't made a quick ruling on the eligibility of Central basketball player Isaiah Joseph.
Joseph is in his fifth year at Central and has exhausted his eight semesters of athletic eligibility. Corbin said waivers are granted in some cases allowing a student-athlete an extra year of eligibility, but he does not have enough evidence yet to grant Joseph a waiver.
"There are not many exceptions for a fifth year of eligibility," Corbin said.
Corbin said he has was presented with the waiver request a week ago and has 14 days to rule on the case. He said he asked Central administrators Wednesday for more information about the case, in particular Joseph's academic record and more detail on why he needs another year of athletic eligibility.
Corbin said the waiver request should have been submitted well before the team started practicing and said there are inconsistencies in Central's claim that it was not aware Joseph was ineligible until the season was about to start. Joseph has not played a game for the Little Green.
"This should have been started in September," Corbin said. "There are things here that don't make sense to me."
Corbin said there are cases when student-athletes run into trouble and eventually straighten their lives out. While he applauds such turnarounds, he is not sure that alone warrants extra eligibility. He said such cases become more complicated when another student-athlete could be displaced from a team if a waiver is granted.
"These are the most agonizing cases to deal with," Corbin said.
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Jim Fennell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.