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High School Coach Cleared in 29-Year-Old Player Case

Jason Scott

A Canadian high school basketball coach was cleared of any wrongdoing in the case of the 29-year-old South Sudanese native who starred on his team.

However, the Windsor and Essex County Secondary School Athletic Association (WECSSAA) is likely to rule that the team’s victories in the 2015-2016 season would be declared forfeits due to use of the ineligible player.

Jonathan Nicola had registered and enrolled at Catholic Central High School using falsified documents that claimed he was 17 years old, according to the Windsor Star. He is in fact believed to be 29 years old.

WECSSAA president Kim Larsen cleared Catholic Central coach Peter Cusumano of wrongdoing, and that the situation would be dealt with in the same manner as any other ineligible player incident.

Larsen also told the Star that nobody seemed to suspect that Nicola was too old.

“There were no rumors or extra information reported to us,” Larsen said. “After the fact, people are saying ‘I had my doubts,’ but nobody had anything and stepped forward. People went with the paperwork.”

“There’s also absolutely nothing to suggest anything about the coach,” he continued. 

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) also spoke in support of Cusumano.

“We have no concerns about Peter’s integrity as a coach or a teacher,” said WECDSB spokesperson Stephen Fields.

“When a person shows up with what we believe are valid documents, we trust they’ve gone through the required approval,” Fields said.

The vacated wins penalty will be finalized at the WECSSAA’s next scheduled meeting.  

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