Four Fired, One Suspended in HS Recruiting Probe | Athletic Business

Four Fired, One Suspended in HS Recruiting Probe

At a Board of Education meeting Wednesday night, a Patterson (N.J.) Eastside athletic director and two coaches were terminated following a series of investigations into the school’s recruiting practices.

The boys’ and girls’ basketball teams’ 2017 season was stopped short in February after accusations of human trafficking were made, resulting in the suspension of several coaches.

The initial investigation by NJ Advance Media claimed that Patterson Eastside coaches were involved in promising to provide international players with living accommodations in exchange for their talents on the team.

More on the initial allegations from AB: NJ Coach Suspended for Sheltering Student-AthletesCoaches Suspended Under Alleged Visa Violations

The accusations made in February were quickly followed by investigations by the New Jersey state governing body for high school sports and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

Former state supreme court justice John E. Wallace Jr. was then commissioned to provide a full report into the incident. Wallace’s report was released to the public today, after its findings allowed the school board to take action at last night’s meeting.

Wallace’s report exonerated track coach Natalie Jordan, but led the board to vote 5-2 in favor of termination for head boys’ basketball coach Juan Griles, assistant coach Alberto Maldonado and athletic director Gregory Cooper.

Head girls’ basketball coach Ray Lyde Jr. was also suspended for one year and part-time administrative assistant Patty Granados was fired from her post in central registration.

There was a great deal of debate preceding the vote, with parents and administrative staff speaking both for and against the implicated employees.

Patterson Eastside principal of operations Zatiti Moody voiced his support for his colleagues, telling board members, “I can assure that all of you have been grossly misinformed.” Moody has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the district.

Victoria Oquendo, the mother of a player who was cut from the boys’ team, accused the board of allowing illegal players to steal opportunities from the local students. “The children were hurt by this,” she said.

Two other women whose children were current on the teams stood at the meeting on behalf of Juan Griles, urging the board to reconsider his position. “Whenever my son is struggling, I would call Coach Juan or one of the staff members at Eastside,” said mother Joyce Addison.

After the meeting, assistant coach Maldonado told nj.com that he will be consulting a lawyer about taking legal action. “I want to clear my name,” he said. “I had nothing to do with this.”

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