SAN DIEGO — One of the county's top high school basketball players might be without a team next season.
Tony Clark still plans to attend Christian High School in September and hopes to play on its basketball team despite a San Diego Section ruling this week declaring him ineligible for athletics at Christian.
Art Clark, Tony's father, said Thursday that he will appeal the ruling by Kendall Webb, San Diego Section commissioner.
"The decision was not totally unexpected," Art Clark said. "But it was totally in error--legally and morally. Kendall Webb ignored the fact that I initiated all contacts with the school.
"Tony is still going to apply at the new school, Christian."
Clark, 6-feet-7, was the Section player of the year last season after leading the county with a 29.5-point average at Valhalla.
Despite his son's basketball success at Valhalla, Art Clark said he decided in February to transfer Tony to a Christian school and said he contacted USDHS and Christian at that time.
With an eventual transfer in mind, Art Clark said he attended a May 15 dinner along with the parents of six of the country's top basketball players. Christian High Principal Ed Giles spoke at the dinner. Gary Jenkins, who has a son attending Christian Junior High, also attended.
Art Clark said the players represented at the dinner (Clark, Monte Vista's Joe McNaull, Crawford's Tracy Halton, Southwest's Adalberto Silva and University City's Ray Hooper and Greg Ballard) had been contacted by Paul McNaull, Joe's father, to attend the dinner.
Jenkins, who in published reports was said to have arranged the meeting on behalf of Christian, also stated that McNaull got the group together.
"The parents invited me to a meeting, and are now making me out to be a bad bandit, that I organized a recruiting meeting," Jenkins said.
Webb, alerted to possible recruiting violations by Christian because of the dinner, conducted an inquiry. He ruled this week that none of the six players represented at the dinner will be eligible for athletics should they choose to attend Christian.
Art Clark said he will fight the ruling. "We are going to go as far as we can and follow the rules of appeal," he said.
And if Webb's decision remains unchanged?
"Then we'll take whatever steps are necessary at that point," he said in reference to possible legal action.
Art Clark is particularly upset that Webb, in a news release announcing his ruling, pointed out that "the Christian High School administration was not found to be in violation," yet ruled Clark ineligible anyway.
"At the same time he's saying Christian High didn't violate the rules, he's singling out my son," Art Clark said.
Webb found that Jenkins, a member of the Christian High Athletic Foundation, was in violation of using undue influence. Jenkins denies that he was acting as a member of the foundation, which he says is dormant, and the assertion that he organized the dinner.
"I was contacted in the beginning by (a player's father) to share the benefits my child receives from a Christian education," Jenkins said. "I was asked to share my personal experiences and opinions of Christian High School."