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CMS: Athletes who gave false info must sit

By Eric Frazier
efrazier@charlotteobserver.com

Two athletes from Butler High and one from Independence have been sanctioned for falsifying their addresses during the 2007-08 school year, school officials announced late Wednesday.

The action marked the latest chapter in an athletic scandal that has embarrassed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for the better part of 10 months. Since November, the school system has investigated more than 200 student-athletes and declared 20 ineligible. Four coaches have resigned or been removed, and four high schools have forfeited football seasons.

The latest: CMS officials say a Butler football player, a Butler basketball player and an Independence football player must sit out one game for every game they illegally participated in, should they elect to play in the upcoming school term.

However, one of the Butler students has already graduated, CMS said in a press release. The other students, who were not at their correct home schools, will be sent to their correct schools for the 2008-09 school year.

Butler and Independence will not forfeit any games, CMS said. N.C. High School Athletic Association rules require sanctions against schools only if the school errs in determining a student's athletic eligibility. When parents or legal guardians supply incorrect information to school officials, the student is penalized.

CMS officials did not identify the students who were sanctioned. Butler athletics director Jim Boone declined comment Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, Superintendent Peter Gorman said he will announce reforms to the eligibility system on Friday. The changes will be based on recommendations from a 24-member citizens' panel he convened after an Observer investigation last year found widespread abuse of the rules.

Gorman did not specify what his changes will be. He couldn't be reached for comment following the announcement about the latest sanctions.

Last month, East Mecklenburg High's athletic director was demoted, two coaches were suspended and the team forfeited its 2007 football season.

CMS officials said they found illegal recruiting of three players and violations of the rule banning Sunday practices.

Also last month, officials announced that a five-month CMS investigation of perennial football power Independence High turned up no “concrete” evidence of wrongdoing.

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