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South Bend Tribune (Indiana)
The top administrator at a prestigious prep school in LaPorte says the school had nothing to do with paying a student's father so his son would play basketball there.
During a federal trial in New York involving bribes and other corruption in college basketball, Brian Bowen Sr. recently testified that when his son, blue-chip recruit Brian Bowen II, played at La Lumiere School in LaPorte, then-head coach Shane Heirman paid the father $2,000 a month so his son would attend the school.
Adam Kronk, head of school at La Lumiere, told The Tribune this week that school staff first learned of the alleged payments after reading a tweet from Yahoo! Sports writer Dan Wetzel, who has been covering the trial.
"We were obviously surprised by it, looked through all of our audited financial statements and records, and the school has never paid Brian Bowen Sr. any money of any sort," Kronk said. "As far as we knew, when his son was at the school, his dad was a volunteer assistant coach. He'd come to practice and help support the team. If he was given any money, it was done without the knowledge of the school. That's not something we condone, or were aware of, or have done, or will do. That's not part of how we do what we do."
Heirman compiled a 75-8 record from 2014 through 2017 at La Lumiere, which has a nationally recognized basketball program. Heirman left La Lumiere in May 2017 to become an assistant coach at DePaul University in Chicago.
Bowen II, originally from Saginaw, Mich., is nicknamed "Tugs" and is now playing professional basketball in Australia, according to an ESPN report.
Kronk said he was curious whether Heirman actually made the payments but he hadn't tried to contact the coach since hearing the reports.
"To me, it's in the interest of the school to make sure it didn't happen and nothing like it would happen in the future," Kronk said.
Kronk was asked whether Heirman might argue that he was paying Bowen Sr. for helping to coach the team.
"It could have been, but again if that's the idea, that's not something that was run through the school," Kronk said. "It's not appropriate. It doesn't make sense to me. You go to high school to get an education and prepare to succeed at the next level."
The Tribune was not able to reach Heirman for comment.
Greg Greenwell, DePaul's sports information director, declined to be interviewed but issued a written statement saying, "DePaul University takes seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department. To date, federal prosecutors have not contacted us about the investigation into college basketball recruiting or statements included in testimony in recent weeks in federal court in the Southern District of New York. We will fully cooperate if contacted in the future by federal law enforcement, the Department of Justice or the NCAA."
La Lumiere is not a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which prohibits paying students or their parents to attend, but the school does play some IHSAA high schools, along with prep schools from other states.
Such payments at IHSAA member schools would violate the association's Rule 5, known commonly as the "amateurism rule," punishable by up to a 365-day suspension.
Paul Neidig, an assistant commissioner at the IHSAA, said he's been following news coverage of the trial, and Bowen's testimony didn't surprise him.
"I don't think we've begun to hear all that's going on," Neidig said. "I think it's very sad we've gotten to that point."
Neidig said there are occasional Rule 5 violations, such as a student receiving prize money for winning a race, but he hasn't yet heard of one involving a parent being paid for a child to attend.
"I really think high school as we know it is still pure," he said. "Let's hope it stays that way."
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