Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick High School filed suit in federal district court in Newark Wednesday against the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, claiming numerous civil rights violations and seeking to enjoin the NJSIAA from barring the school’s boys’ basketball team from the State tournament, which begins March 1.
The complaint alleges that the NJSIAA violated St. Patrick’s student-athletes’ rights to due process, privacy and the free exercise of religion by ignoring its own regulations, entering the school’s gym under false pretenses, taking secret video of students on school property and disregarding NJSIAA precedents.
Steven J. Timko, the NJSIAA executive director; Patrick J. Reilly, a retired New Jersey police captain who took the videos while working as a private investigator for the NJSIAA; and Reilly’s Signature Investigative Group were named defendants in the suit
St. Patrick Coach Kevin Boyle, who admitted that he attended pre-season open gym sessions in violation of NJSIAA rules, has served the three-game suspension imposed upon him and is not a party to the lawsuit.
Federal District Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh has scheduled a hearing on St. Patrick’s application for 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. It remains unclear if Cavanaugh will rule from the bench on Friday.
Kevin Marino, attorney for St. Patrick, declined comment.
NJSIAA attorney Mike Herbert said the state was in the process of getting its papers together.
“We’re trying to respond as quickly as we can,” Herbert said. “We’re going to have our papers to Judge Cavanaugh on Friday morning and the hearing will be conducted at 3 p.m.”
The Celtics (22-3) feature Duke-bound point guard Kyrie Irving and junior wing Michael Gilchrist, the top prospect nationally in the Class of 2011, and are ranked No. 8 in the USA Today Super 25. They are the defending New Jersey Tournament of Champions winner and would have been the favorite to repeat had they not been banned by the NJSIAA on Feb. 12.
“In reaching and upholding its decision to exclude the student-athletes on Plaintiff’s team from competing in the state basketball tournament, the NJSIAA, a state actor, violated Plaintiff’s fundamental constitutional and civil rights, including its right to procedural due process,” the suit reads. “Specifically, in addition to violating Plaintiff’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and its First and Fourteenth Amendment right to the free exercise of religion, the NJSIAA also violated Plaintiff’s Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.”
Paterson Catholic is currently the top seed in the New Jersey Non-Public North B bracket, with Jersey City St. Anthony No. 2. The bracket would have to be re-seeded if St. Patrick is admitted to the tournament.
St. Patrick principal Joe Picaro hopes his team will be reinstated.
“The best case is that the judge says that they [the NJSIAA] were out of line and they were wrong and he throws out their findings,” Picaro said.
St. Patrick faces Union in the Union County semifinals Wednesday night at The Dunn Center in Elizabeth, with the winner to face the Plainfield-Linden winner in Saturday’s championship at Kean College.
IRVING, HARRIS NAMED NAISMITH FINALISTS
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released its finalists for the 2010 Naismith Boys’ High School Basketball Players of the Year.
Among the six finalists are Irving, a 6-2 guard from West Orange, N.J. and Tobias Harris, a 6-8 forward from Dix Hills (N.Y.) Half Hollow Hills West who has signed to play at Tennessee.
The other finalists are Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa, Brandon Knight of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Jared Sullinger of Columbus, Ohio, and Deshaun Thomas of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
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.