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Artesia Basketball Program Probed

Recruiter accused of offering money to family. The school's coach, out on leave, denies wrongdoing.

November 06, 2005|Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writer

The mother of a high school basketball standout from Denver has alleged that a recruiter with connections to Artesia High offered to pay rent, utilities and provide other financial compensation if her son attended the school.

Angela Hall said she offered e-mail correspondence and first-person accounts of her family's experiences when she met with a school district investigator last week in Denver. Her son, Ray, a 6-foot-11 senior center for Denver Mullen High, was also interviewed.

"It's not a clean program," Angela Hall said of Artesia, summarizing what she told the investigator.

The Artesia-Bellflower-Cerritos Unified School District began a probe of the Artesia boys' basketball program in September, after these allegations were made to authorities. Artesia Coach Scott Pera has been put on paid leave until the conclusion of the investigation. Through his attorney, he has denied any wrongdoing.

The allegations, if substantiated, could affect the amateur status and college eligibility of some players and bring sanctions from the federation that governs high school athletic competition in the state. School district officials, who will share their findings with the California Interscholastic Federation, said they expect their investigation to be complete in a week or so. They declined further comment.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday November 08, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
Artesia basketball -- A story Sunday about the Artesia High boys' basketball program being investigated said the school was a member of the Artesia-Bellflower-Cerritos Unified School District. The district is called ABC Unified and came about in 1965 when the Artesia, Bloomfield and Carmenita school districts merged.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday November 11, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
High school basketball -- An article in Sunday's Sports section about Artesia High School basketball referred to RBC West as an Amateur Athletic Union team. AAU officials say the team has not been affiliated with their organization for at least two years.

The Halls -- Ray, his father, mother and sister -- spent a few days in June and then about a month in Southern California starting in July, after Ray was recruited by Roy White to play for RBC West, a Los Angeles-based Amateur Athletic Union team.

It was White who made the offer of financial assistance, when he learned of the family's plan to return to Colorado, Angela Hall told the investigator.

Hall said White had hinted that he would help the family at various times during the summer.

"Originally, I thought it was a joke," she said in Colorado this week during a 90-minute interview that recapped what she told the investigator. "My whole family laughed it off."

But when White learned that the family, short on money and fed up with their living and work arrangements, was planning to leave, Angela Hall said he offered to pay thousands for rent, utilities and a "salary-type thing" for her husband.

"It was in a conversation," Hall said during a recent telephone interview. " 'This is what we'd do for you if you wanted to stay.' "

White does not work for Artesia, but he ran an NCAA-sanctioned summer tournament there in July and RBC West played games at the school. He denied offering the Halls financial assistance, saying, "Without a doubt it's not true."

Pera has no official tie to White's AAU team, but the Artesia coach was the host of another NCAA-sanctioned summer event that RBC West participated in later the same month. Through his attorney, Gary Stern, Pera said he has run the Artesia basketball program "consistent with the letter and spirit of the ABC district and CIF rules."

Club teams such as RBC West are allowed to pay for necessary travel, room and board, apparel, equipment and some entertainment for players and their legal guardians. Payments beyond those expenses could jeopardize a player's status as an amateur and therefore his college eligibility, an NCAA spokesman said. Such payments would also violate CIF rules governing high school competition within the state.

The RBC West team was financed by businessman Michael Glasser, co-founder of the apparel label Seven Jeans and the father of Artesia point guard Derek Glasser. Two other top Artesia players, Shawntell Norman and James Harden, also played for RBC West.

Michael Glasser said he poured $50,000 into RBC West to cover its expenses during the AAU season, which included trips to tournaments in North Carolina, New Jersey, Houston and two in Las Vegas from April to July. He said his sponsorship was limited to the club team.

Porter Cutrell, boys' basketball coach at Denver Mullen High, said White, identifying himself as a representative of the shoe company Reebok, made at least five trips to Colorado last season scouting and attempting to recruit Ray Hall. A spokesman for Reebok said White does not work for the company.

White acknowledged he pursued Hall to be a member of RBC West's team -- but not Artesia's -- saying, "I'm a recruiter. I just get players to play on my team. I don't care who wins CIF."

Artesia is expected to have all five starters back from a 28-5 team that last season was runner-up in the CIF Southern Section's III-AA division and advanced to the Southern California regional final of the state tournament.

Angela Hall said White originally recruited her son only for RBC West, but that she became suspicious of the club team's tie to Artesia when White tried to steer her to the Park Apartments, just down the street from the school, and she discovered that the families of other Artesia basketball players were living there.

"I thought that was odd," she said.

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