The state playoffs for boys basketball begin this week, but for one south Florida team, the focus unfortunately will be on what happens off the court as much as on it.Dr. Krop (Miami)
, the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class 6A, managed to overcome off-the-court distractions last week to win its district title Saturday night. The Lightning will begin their quest for the state title Thursday in the first round of the regional playoffs, but there is a pending investigation by the state's governing association for high school sports into the eligibilty status of its star player hanging over them as they embark on that journey.
At the center of the dilemma is standout guard Bryan Delancy
, a native of the Bahamas who transferred to Krop for his senior year but last week was ruled ineligible because administrative officials at Krop neglected to submit a simple, but required document for foreign students on international visas who wish to play sports in Florida.
Last week during a hearing, the Florida High School Athletics Association ruled that Delancy was ineligible because of that snafu involving the proper documentation after he transferred to Krop last fall. The team was stripped of 19 wins that Delancy played in, eliminating Krop (20-3 at the time) from the district playoffs that would determine the district's two teams for the state playoffs.
However, a judge intervened, and at the 11th hour granted an injunction that allowed top-seeded Krop to participate in the district playoffs. Krop won two games to capture the district title and qualify for the regional playoffs that begin Thursday. But the FHSAA reportedly is continuing its investigation into Delancy's eligibility status and plans to appeal the court ruling, according to a report Sunday in the Miami Herald, placing a cloud of uncertainty over the playoff status of Krop.
The Miami Herald's investigation into the matter found that Delancy's given address according to Krop's records does not exist and that the FHSAA file on Delancy has two different birthdates for him. The Herald also reported that the FHSAA's file "contains a document from U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement indicating that Delancy's student visa had been ‘terminated' effective November 2009, as a result of an ‘unauthorized withdrawal' from a previous school Delancey attended." Delancy attended two other schools in Miami-Dade County before enrolling at Krop last fall.
There's also some confusion as to who is Delancy's legal guardian in Florida and his address. Krop records, according to the Herald, list Bernard Wright as Delancy's legal guardian. Wright is a former assistant coach of Krop head coach Shakey Rodriguez at Miami Senior High and Florida International University. Wright's address, according to recent public records, is in Hialeah, outside of Krop's attendance boundary.
The story has re-ignited accusations of illegal recruiting that date back to the 1990s when Rodriguez often was accused of recruiting players while he was coaching at Miami Senior, which won five state championships during his 10-year tenure there. However, the FHSAA never issued sanctions against Miami Senior or Rodriguez before he left the program to become coach at FIU. Three years later, however, Miami Senior was stripped of a subsequent state title for illegally recruiting players and allowing them to live with boosters in 1998 when current Kansas State coach Frank Martin was the head coach of the Stingerees.
Rodriguez decided to play Delancy in the district playoffs last weekend despite the fact that there's an appeal pending and the possibility that Krop could be stripped of any playoff wins, including a potential state championship, pending further FHSAA investigations and possible legal actions.
Suffice it to say that it's been a frenzied fast break for Krop the past week, but as it stands now, there's no slam dunk as to what will be the outcome.Steve Dorsey, who covers the South Florida region for MaxPreps.com, is a freelance writer based in West Palm Beach. He has covered the South Florida high school sports scene for the past 29 years. He also is a contributing writer for American Football Monthly and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.