Leading off today:
The Illinois High School Association board will listen to arguments Monday regarding the eligibility of four athletes from one small school not far from Chicago. Though their eventual ruling will carry no weight outside that state -- and may be struck down in the legal system -- plenty of people across the country will be watching.
It comes down to a classic case of deciding whether the teens from war-ravaged Sudan should be allowed to make the most of their move to the land of opportunity or if perhaps someone else is trying to be opportunistic at their expense.
Administrators at Mooseheart High School, a privately funded school 35 miles west of Chicago, say they accepted the students as part of a tradition of helping. But the Associated Press reported that the executive director of IHSA has ruled the school broke a prohibition on high school recruiting when it accepted three basketball players and a distance runner from A-HOPE, an Indiana-based foundation that paid for the athletes to come to the United States. The ruling came after the basketball coach from another school complained.
It doesn't help the school's case that A-HOPE founder Mark Adams has previously found himself in NCAA cross-hairs. Last month, the NCAA suspended two Indiana University freshmen for nine games and required them to repay a part of the impermissible benefits they received from Adams, including plane tickets, housing and clothing. The NCAA classified Adams as an IU booster because he once donated $185 to a university sports club.
Mooseheart's appeal of the preliminary ruling allowed 6-foot-7-inch Mangisto Deng, 6-8 Makur Puou and 7-foot Akim Nyang to continue playing for the moment, and the team is 3-3. But the four athletes, all juniors, face uncertain futures because of the potential impact if they're banned from high school sports. Mooseheart administrator Scott Hart said the players have attracted some interest from mid-major colleges such as Wichita State and Indiana State.
"We don't have family here. Nobody's going to pay for our college," Deng told the AP. "That's why we're working hard in the sport so we can go to college and pay for our scholarships."
Deng and Puou said they want to be businessmen when they return to Sudan. Nyang said he wants to be an engineer, and runner Wal Khat said he wants to be a pilot.
"When we leave Mooseheart, we need something for support ... No one will pay for you," Khat said.
All-state soccer: Remsen senior forward Erin O'Connor earned first-team all-state honors for the third straight season, capping her career with selection as the New York Class D soccer player of the year.
The New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Organization for Girls Sports released its all-state team, players of the year and coaches of the year Sunday evening.
Niskayuna's Meghan Doyle and Washingtonville's Alana O'Neill, both juniors, shared the Class AA player of the year.
Class A also had co-recipients -- junior Christina Klaum (Rockville Centre South Side) and senior Morgan Santoro (Islip). Both repeated as first-team selections.
Greece Odyssey senior midfielder Emily Tucker was selected the Class B player of the year, and Class C honors went to Hoosick Falls senior forward Grace DeLurey.
The full list of all-star selections can be found here.
Playoff format change? Section 9's football committee is discussing expanding the Class AA playoffs from four to eight teams beginning in 2014, the Times Herald-Record reported last week.
Currently, the top two teams in Class AA Division I and Division II, each containing five schools, qualify for the semifinals. However, no Division II team has ever won the championship, suggesting that third- and even fourth-place