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June 01. 2014 8:45PM

Pembroke basketball player gets reprieve with another year of eligibility

A New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association committee has granted another year of eligibility to a Pembroke Academy basketball player, overturning a ruling by NHIAA Executive Director Pat Corbin.

Corbin said the NHIAA eligibility committee agreed with his ruling, but a majority of the members granted an appeal filed by the parents of Pembroke player Dominic Timbas because there was a possibility the eligibility bylaw had been interpreted inconsistently by other schools and administrators.

“The majority of the committee felt that they had to allow this to go through even though they disagreed with it,” Corbin said Sunday.

The bylaw in question limits players to eight consecutive semesters after they complete eighth grade.

Timbas, a 6-foot-5 forward, completed eighth grade at a middle school in Bedford, then repeated the year in a home-schooling program before enrolling at Pembroke as a ninth-grader after the family moved there.

Timbas has played three seasons for the Spartans, helping lead Pembroke to consecutive Division II state titles the last two years.

Corbin said Pembroke sent the initial waiver request to the NHIAA, asking for Timbas’ eligibility to be extended by another year. Corbin denied it.

“The school appealed for a waiver,” Corbin said. “To me, if you believe that you didn’t need a waiver, why would you appeal for one?”

Corbin, who retires at the end of the month, said the eligibility committee’s decision in the appeal supported his findings last month, but indicated the bylaw may need to be reviewed to make certain it is being interpreted clearly — and in the same way — by all schools and administrators.

Jamie Timbas, Dominic’s father, declined comment Sunday.

Corbin said his rulings on Timbas and other Pembroke players in the past have all been based on the facts and merits he saw in each case, not the schools involved.

Player eligibility at Pembroke has been an ongoing dispute with other schools, which have raised allegations the academy is getting students to transfer primarily for athletics.

The hostility was apparent earlier this year when NHIAA Division I schools voted to exclude Pembroke from next year’s schedule, despite the Spartans’ successful petition to move up a level from Division II.

The controversy involving the Pembroke basketball program began last December, when the NHIAA ruled that two transfer students were ineligible to play basketball for the Spartans.

The Spartans captured the Division II title last March, but later that month the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization stripped a Pembroke senior of his Player of the Year award after the player used posted an obscenity on Twitter.

In April, after Pembroke petitioned to move from Division II to Division I, the Division I athletic directors and principals voted not to play the Spartans next season.

School administrators had effectively overruled the head coaches at two Manchester schools. But last week the school board voted to have the athletics committee and the full board vote on the basketball schedules for next season, after District Athletics Director Chris Donovan said that two sets have been drawn up: one that includes Pembroke and one that does not.

dalden@unionleader.com


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