Former Hamilton athletic director says conference call led to resignation

The Hamilton High School basketball team hosted Lakota West on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

The former athletic director for Hamilton Schools, who resigned after a basketball player was found to be playing while ineligible, said a January conference call with a parent led directly to the violation and his resignation.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association said Monday that its investigation into the ineligibility of a member of the Hamilton High School boys basketball team, which was eventually ordered to forfeit eight wins, is now done.

ExploreHamilton athletic director resigns, basketball team forfeits all wins after rules violation

Bill Stewart, who resigned in late January from the athletic director’s job, told the Journal-News he was presented with an affidavit regarding the player’s eligibility.

“One of the parents involved completed an affidavit that stated she was moving into the Hamilton district. This affidavit was provided to me by HHS personnel who represented to me that the information it contained was truthful,” Stewart said.

He organized a conference call on Jan. 20 with the parent and the OHSAA.

“During that conference call the involved parent indicated that neither she nor her family had any intention of moving to Hamilton, which was contrary to the representations contained in the affidavit she had previously completed and contrary to the representations that were made to me by the other HHS personnel involved,” Stewart said.

Stewart did not identify any of the Hamilton High School personnel to whom he was referring.

ExploreOHSAA continue review of player ineligibility, former AD's work in other school districts reviewed

The district announced two days later, on Jan. 22, that a rules violation would cause the forfeit of eight wins and that Stewart was resigning as athletic director. The OHSAA said that “a member of the school’s varsity boys basketball team should not have been permitted to participate due to not having a parent living in Ohio.”

“I want to be very clear, I was not involved in any way with orchestrating the misrepresentations that were made in the affidavit,” Stewart said. “The affidavit was provided to me by other HHS personnel, who I trusted at the time, and who represented to me that the statements contained in the affidavit were accurate and truthful.”

Stewart said he resigned because “I believed, at the time, my resignation was in the best interests of the district.”

Kristin Ronai, director of compliance of the OHSAA, said Monday, “I can confirm that there was a phone call with the involved parent where it was conveyed that the family had not moved, and that they did not intend to move.

“After the conclusion of that call, I did call Mr. Stewart back and we began working together on the details of the apparent violation.”

Moreover, Ronai said that “there is currently no pending investigation. We have resolved all student eligibility issues with the district.”

ExploreHamilton High School principal, assistant principal submit resignations on same day

When Stewart’s comments to the Journal-News were shared with Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mike Holbrook on Monday, the superintendent declined to address them specifically.

“The Hamilton City School District and board of education do not comment on personnel matters,” he said.

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