Krop Senior's Hoops Hopes Could Be Derailed

Top Miami-Dade team slam-dunked by technicality

By Ari Odzer
|  Thursday, Feb 3, 2011  |  Updated 8:00 AM EDT
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<a title=Krop High School might have to forfeit their season because of a legal dispute over a player." />

Krop High School might have to forfeit their season because of a legal dispute over a player.

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He wears number two on the number one team in the state. Brian Delancy is a senior at Michael Krop High School in Northeast Miami-Dade County, a guard who is the center of controversy.

"I haven't done anything wrong," Delancy said Wednesday, sitting in his lawyer's office. "I followed the rules, I'm a good kid, good grades."

"We don't think the school did wrong, we don't think the team did wrong," said attorney Alan Goldfarb.

The Florida High School Athletics Association, the governing body of high school sports in the state, has a different opinion. Just last week, the organization declared Delancy ineligible to play, saying the young man from the Bahamas doesn't have the right immigration paperwork.

As a result, the FHSAA says Krop must forfeit all of its games, making the Lightning ineligible for the playoffs, unable to compete for a state championship. The team's season is in limbo.

"I don't think it's fair for my teammates to be without me," said Delancy.

"It's a gross injustice to all of the other players on that team," said Goldfarb, who knows a thing or two about the impact playing for a state championship can have on a student-athlete. He played on the 1965 Miami Beach High team that won it all.

"This is a team that would've been in the country's top-ten this week," Goldfarb says. "At the end of January, as the team is peaking, geting ready for tournament play, to do this is really offensive, based upon whose statement, based upon what evidence?"

Goldfarb and another lawyer, David Baron, are working for free, trying to save the team's season. They point out a Catch-22 situation: public schools aren't allowed to ask a student about his or her immigration status,  yet Krop is being penalized for allowing Delancy to play.

"If you go up and down the rosters of basketball teams, baseball teams, soccer teams, all the teams in Dade County, you're going to find a great number of immigrant kids playing sports, some of whom are here legally and some maybe who are not, but it doesn't matter for enrollment in the Dade County school system," Baron says.

The FHSAA says sports are special. To play on an athletic team, a student must prove legal residence. Baron says all a student needs to play high school sports is to prove he or she lives in the public school's district and has the required minimum grade point average.

There also appears to be a double standard in the rules: if a student is on the chess team or the debate team, for example, no one ever asks any questons about immigration status. But play a sport like basketball, and suddenly, it's an issue that has rival coaches calling the FHSAA to complain. Baron and Goldfarb think it's a case of trying to beat a team with a technicality because they couldn't beat them on the basketball court.

So the lawyers are taking the fight to a court of law. They've asked a judge to issue an injunction blocking the FHSAA's declaration and allowing Delancy and his teammates to play ball. The FHSAA would not comment, saying it's still investigating Krop's appeal of its ruling. 

The judge may decide the case in a hearing on Friday.

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