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CIF Reopens Its Probe of Inglewood's Hart

February 13, 1996|ERIC SHEPARD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A month after clearing Inglewood High basketball standout Jason Hart of any wrongdoing, the CIF Southern Section announced Monday that it's reopening an investigation of the player's eligibility.

At issue is whether Hart, a senior who transferred from Westchester last summer, is properly enrolled at Inglewood.

Dean Crowley, Southern Section commissioner, said he was convinced to reopen the case by a Times report that raised doubt as to whether Hart is living in the Inglewood attendance area.

Hart, a 6-foot-2 point guard who has signed a letter of intent with Syracuse, will have his eligibility reviewed at a hearing Thursday morning before several members of the Southern Section Executive Committee.

"I spoke with the Inglewood principal [Kenneth Crowe] and Jason Hart's attorney [Michael Kapland] and I told them to be ready to go to hearing," Crowley said. "I will send them a letter Tuesday morning outlining the issues and our concerns. We're taking this seriously."

If Hart is found to have violated section rules by not living in the Inglewood attendance area, he will lose eligibility for the rest of the season and his team will forfeit all the victories in which he participated.

Inglewood is 23-3 and won its fourth consecutive Bay League title last Friday. It opens the Division II-A playoffs against Bosco Tech on Friday night. Even if the school forfeits games because of an ineligible player, it will not be removed from the playoffs because of a new rule that was instituted at the beginning of the school year.

"We put in this rule because too many teams were being taken out of the playoffs unfairly," Crowley said. "If an athlete is deemed ineligible, he or she is gone, but not the team. It punishes less kids."

Crowley ordered an initial investigation into Hart's eligibility on Jan. 9 after learning of allegations raised by The Times concerning Hart's residence. Crowe promptly suspended Hart from athletic competition, pending an internal review.

Three days later, Jan. 12, Crowe cleared Hart and he played in Inglewood's victory over Palos Verdes Peninsula that night.

On Jan. 16, Crowe forwarded an 18-page report to Crowley that claimed Hart and his mother, Deborah Hart, moved to Inglewood over the summer and that Jason was properly enrolled.

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