Sports Roundup -- Top-ranked Sealth team under fire

Top-ranked Sealth team under fire

Allegations of recruiting violations by the Chief Sealth girls basketball program this week came as little surprise to the Bainbridge program.

“I think it’s about time,” Spartan head coach Penny Gienger said.

In a Seattle Times investigation published this week, several parents of players alleged that head coach Ray Willis and assistant coaches Amos Walters and Laura Fuller improperly recruited kids to play for the Seahawks, making promises of playing time and earning college scholarships.

Several were said to have been wooed to attend Sealth since the seventh grade, including top stars Christina Nzekwe and Regina Rogers. A parent of a player who lived in Renton told the Times she was given a fake lease agreement and a phony rent receipt to prove she had moved to West Seattle.

Gienger said she and others suspected Willis was recruiting players against Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules even when he was the head coach at Eastside Catholic. He was fired after two years at that school for reasons that have not been disclosed, and then he was hired by Sealth.

“At Eastside Catholic, he had a Canadian on his team, and her mom and dad didn’t live here,” Gienger said. “They were living in Canada. I knew the Canadian National Team’s coach and she said there’s no way she’s living down there.

“It makes me mad because I’ve known most of these girls since seventh grade. They’ve worked really hard to get where they are right now and he just goes out and gets another Division I player.”

The Seattle School District is currently investigating allegations against the Sealth program.

Bainbridge athletic director Neal White said that he knew the Times probe was going on, but didn’t think anything had come of it until the story was published. He said quite a few players and students had come to him to try and find out what was going on.

“I think everybody’s waiting to see (what happens),” he said. “We didn’t have anything to go off of other than the article. It’s really not our problem. It’s their problem to investigate and find what they do. I think it will be done fairly.”

If the allegations are proven true, the team could be forced to forefeit their games, withdraw from postseason play and possibly give up last year’s state title.

Bainbridge is one of the many teams that will benefit if that happens, as their two losses – both to Chief Sealth – would be reversed, making their record perfect and leaving the Bainbridge Metro League champions.

Sealth defeated Holy Names 67-55 on Thursday in a 3A Sea-King District 2 game. The Spartans played Seattle Prep yesterday.

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