The other day I heard someone ask, “What school around here got the death penalty?” and I felt my body tighten up. One thing I absolutely cannot stand is hearing people talk about something they do not know about. This person went on to say, “They received it for breaking the rules of recruiting or something like that.” and that’s when I found myself speaking up.
The school this person was referring to is Cordia High School in Eastern Kentucky. The school did indeed have to face some consequences for their actions, but many do not know what these actions truly were. Being from a school in the 53rd District (same as Cordia), I knew more about the situation than the person I heard making these remarks. As USA High School Sports said in their article, Cordia was proven to be guilty of “allowing a staff member to lease housing to the family of a student-athlete without ever receiving payment. Providing plane tickets on two occasions to a student-athlete so he could travel out of state. Facilitating housing for a student-athlete at no cost to him or his family. Providing money and clothes to student-athletes.” These violations led to a ban on Cordia’s play; it was ruled that Cordia is not allowed to compete in the 2014-2015 season as well as the 2015-2016 post season. Cordia also had to forfeit wins from last season (23 total). There was also a probation on the school’s athletic program up until the 2018-2019 school year, as well as an aggregate fine of $25,980.
- Suspension of the Cordia HS boys’ basketball team from playing scrimmages or contests during the 2014-15 regular and postseason, as well as the 2016 postseason. During its suspension, the school would be permitted to conduct regular season practices from October 15 until the first allowable day for district tournament play. Included in this penalty is a stipulation that representatives of the boys’ basketball team with eligibility remaining may transfer to specific KHSAA member schools without penalty;
- Forfeiture of all boys’ basketball games from the 2013-14 season for the use of at least one ineligible player in all games. The score will be recorded as 2-0 for all games which Cordia won, and the game score will remain the same for losses but will be noted as forfeits;
- Probation for Cordia’s interscholastic athletic program through the 2018-19 season. With this probation, Cordia will be placed on conditional membership, with its membership status to be reviewed at the end of the 2014-15 school year to determine whether its membership should continue to be recommended for approval by the Board of Control beginning with the 2015-16 season. Also as part of its probation, all Cordia coaches and athletic administrators shall be required to attend an in-service workshop in Lexington, conducted by the KHSAA staff concerning Association Bylaws and Kentucky law that affects interscholastic athletics during the 2014-15 school year. Additionally, an Assistant Commissioner will also be assigned to work directly with the Superintendent of schools and the Principal of Cordia to ensure development of policies, procedures and best practices to be implemented in the athletic program;
- Suspension of two members of the Cordia HS boys’ basketball coaching staff from the 2014-15 postseason boys’ basketball tournaments sanctioned by KHSAA.
- An aggregate fine of $25,980 for various infractions per the fine schedule in Bylaw 27.
Two days ago, I read that Cordia was proven guilty of 17 of the 27 violations, but the board voted to uphold most of the penalties that the school faced. The five-year probation as well as the fine were lifted and the school is allowed to play a maximum of 15 regular-season games, however, Cordia was banned from post season playing for the next two years. As it turned out, the board was split when it came to banning Cordia for the entire 2014-2015 season. Floyd County Superintendent, Henry Webb, stated, “I sympathize with the students in this situation. I would encourage us to think about not punishing the kids for the adults’ mistakes.”
As Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”