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Robeson still forced to ride PSAL bench

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Despite pleas for clemency as well as possible scholarships at risk, it doesn’t look likely that the PSAL will reverse its decision on forfeiting the rest of the Paul Robeson High School boys’ basketball season. “There have been no changes to the decision right now. Jefferson [High School] has been suspended for a couple of games and Robeson for the rest of the year and that’s how it stands,” said Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson Margie Feinberg. Feinberg’s comments came on Monday following a press conference in Restoration Plaza, in which City Councilmember Al Vann said he spoke with PSAL Chief Executive Martin Oestreicher and was told the league would take a second look at the season-ending suspension. Also at the press conference was the team’s coach, Todd Myles, as well as players, parents, community activists and other supporters of Robeson High School, 150 Albany Avenue. The suspension came after a December 15 benches- and bleachers-clearing brawl at Robeson during the final seconds of a Robeson-Jefferson high school game. At the time, there was just second left in the game with Robeson leading by five points. The inciting incident reportedly occurred when a Jefferson player committed a hard foul. Jefferson High School is located at 400 Pennsylvania Avenue. The PSAL ruled that Jefferson would forfeit three games plus traveling to a winter holiday basketball tournament, while Robeson forfeited the entire season. “This is impacting on the careers of several high school students, and seniors in particular, and members of the team and it’s really unfair and unjust,” said Vann. “It is regrettable that students from the stands came on the floor to confront members of another team. We cannot accept that or tolerate that, so I can understand the PSAL wanting to take some action to show this is something that will not continue. I just think they overdid it in this particular case,” he added. Vann said both teams should have been suspended a certain number of games, but to give Robeson a harsher suspension wasn’t fair. Myles said he felt that forfeiting the season was a little harsh, especially in light of the team having good students, with some up for basketball scholarships. “That’s the main focus to me and what are these young guys going to do next year,” said Myles. “Most of these kids are going to go to college. Robeson has produced the most Division I public school athletes playing college basketball in the last 12 years,” he added. Myles, a 1995 Robeson graduate who played at Mississippi State, said many of these former Robeson players went on to become school principals, college coaches and other worthwhile professions. “A lot of kids are hurting right now as well as the team. A lot of parents are calling me every night worrying about what their kids are going to do between four and seven. We got study hall every day before practice. We got weight rooms and we have practice. Guys are coming home six-thirty and seven o’clock and staying out of trouble,” said Myles. Myles said colleges are looking at five players right now and at least three of the senior players intend to play next year in college. Senior forward Orrin Stancil said forfeiting the season will definitely hurt his chances of playing in college. “I think it’s [the ruling] harsh because a lot of us are trying to get into school for free and this happened and now we won’t get the exposure we needed,” he said.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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