Independence athletic probe nearly done

A 41/2-month investigation of possible athletic eligibility violations at Independence High will be completed by the end of June, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Peter Gorman said Wednesday.

District officials launched the investigation in early February, as part of a broader CMS inquiry into allegations that families across the county have been lying about their addresses to get their children into elite sports programs.

Independence, a perennial Mecklenburg football power whose string of seven straight state titles ended last years, came under scrutiny after the Observer learned that during last season's state playoffs a starting cornerback used a phony address. CMS dismissed him and, ultimately, six more Patriots from the team for eligibility issues.

Last week the parents of two Independence football stars denounced the investigation to the school board; one complained that CMS lawyers and investigators have harassed his family with repeated visits.

At Wednesday's news briefing, Gorman said he continues to get calls from people making allegations about the program. Even after he announces findings, he said, “I expect it's all going to ramp up again next fall.”

Gorman said he did not have a final tally of the investigation's cost, but will release that when he announces the results.