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Saturday / February 23.
  • Boyle, St. Pat’s Facing Sanctions; ESPN Tourney Likely Out for Celtics

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    Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick, the No. 5 team in the USA Today Super 25, will be declared ineligible for the upcoming New Jersey state tournament at a hearing Wednesday because it held illegal preseason practices, according to a source with direct knowledge.

    Head coach Kevin Boyle will receive a three-game suspension and the program faces two years of probation, the source added.

    “The recommendation is for a three-game suspension for Boyle and the team can’t play in the [state] tournament and [faces] two years probation,” the source said.

    The Star-Ledger first reported on its Website Thursday that St. Patrick had been accused of holding illegal preseason practices. New Jersey schools are not allowed to hold practices before Thanksgiving.

    The executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is expected to “rubber stamp” the recommendation of the Controversies Committee to suspend St. Patrick when it convenes Wednesday in Robbinsville, N.J.

    “Do I think the Executive Committee is going to reverse what the Controversies Committee will do?” the source said. “Of course not. It’s a rubber stamp.”

    Boyle did not return text or phone messages left on his cell phone.

    Kevin Marino, the attorney representing St. Patrick, declined formal comment, as did St. Patrick principal Joseph Picaro.

    St. Patrick has four regular-season games remaining, beginning with Saturday night’s contest against Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft at the Mater Dei Nike Extravaganza.

    If Boyle were to be given a three-game suspension on Wednesday, as the source indicated he would, he have to sit out the team’s remaining three games after Wednesday, including contests Feb. 12 against Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy and Feb. 13 against Manattan Rice, both in the Primetime Shootout in New Jersey. Boyle could then return in time for the Union County tournament Feb. 16 or 17.

    St. Patrick, which features Duke-bound point guard Kyrie Irving and Michael Gilchrist, the No. 1 junior in the nation, could attempt to play in the ESPN Rise National Invitational slated for early April, but the teams in that event need permission from their state’s governing body.

    New Jersey prevents its teams from participating in games after the Tournament of Champions ends in March, and the state is unlikely to permit a program on probation to participate in such an event.

    “I doubt it,” a second source close to the St. Patrick administration said. “They’re going to hammer us. They’re not going to say, ‘We’re going to hammer you and let you do something nice.'”

    Crystal Howard, a spokesperson for ESPN, said the tournament will only invite teams that have been cleared by their governing bodies.

    “Before we will even approach a school we have to know that the state association or the governing body will allow them to play in the games. If they don’t say that schools in their governance could play in our games, we won’t even consider going against those rulings and actually select or invite,” Howard said.

    St. Patrick, which has produced NBA players Samuel Dalembert and Al Harrington, would appear to be at a crossroads.

    Boyle has indicated his desire to coach at the college level in New Jersey in the near future and could opt to leave after this year.

    This latest development could hasten Boyle’s departure from the school after a 20-year run.

    St. Patrick would appear to have two choices.

    With or without Boyle, it could opt to remain a member of the state association and accept the punishment and move forward. But if Boyle leaves (prior to Gilchrist’s senior year), the program’s reputation as a national powerhouse could take a serious hit and the team could sink into mediocrity

    On the other hand, the school could use this latest development as an opportunity to follow the path of Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict’s Prep, a national basketball power which is a federated member of the NJSIAA, not a full member.

    St. Benedict’s, which beat St. Patrick, 65-64, in a recent game in Elizabeth, N.J., is free to play a national schedule.

    “For us scheduling is difficult,” St. Benedict’s coach Dan Hurley said. “In terms of finding games, the national tournaments are really the guts of your schedule. But it’s real hard here in the tri-state area to find games.”

    The other issue is that all of the athletic teams at the school would have to go independent. St. Benedict’s features a number of sports — soccer, fencing, baseball, wrestling, track and field — that play either national schedules or in the prep division of the state tournaments.

    St. Patrick is a coed school that has fewer than 200 students and features teams in volleyball, baseball and track and field that would all have to go independent if the basketball team did.

    “I don’t think they’re considering leaving [the state association],” said St. Patrick athletic director Red Migliore. “You never know. That’s a decision that [principal] Joe Picaro could make.”

    Picaro declined comment until after Wednesday’s hearing.

    (Photo courtesy Star-Ledger)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.