WPIAL suspends McKeesport basketball assistant 1 year for recruiting

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 | 6:55 PM

McKeesport pays Troy Blackwell to convince charter school students to return to the school district, but the WPIAL ruled Wednesday that the assistant girls basketball coach’s efforts violated recruiting rules.

The issue was that Blackwell sent a social media message to a girls basketball player at a charter school encouraging her to come back and play for the Tigers. As a result, Blackwell was banned from coaching any PIAA sport for one year, WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said.

“What complicates it, he has been hired as the community outreach liaison for the McKeesport Area School District,” O’Malley said. “His job is to bring kids back to McKeesport from the charter schools. But you just can’t do it that way.”

Additionally, McKeesport’s administration was censured “for its inability to administer to the recruiting rule,” and the girls basketball program was placed on probation for one year, O’Malley said.

Head basketball coach Eric Smith was not disciplined.

McKeesport plans to appeal to the PIAA.

“I respect the hearing process and the people that sit on the volunteer boards but we are extremely disappointed and angered by the outcome of today’s hearing,” McKeesport athletic director Charley Kiss said. “We plan to appeal this decision with legal counsel and will go to whatever lengths necessary to protect our district and athletics programs from being made a scapegoat in the district and state battles with recruiting and transfers.

“We admit an error in attempting to establish a relationship on an athletic foundation by our coach. But our coach is one of the pillars in the community and has never been accused of anything that violated recruiting policies.”

Kiss noted that Blackwell had not seen the girl play.

The district pays nearly $11,000 to charter schools for each student, Kiss said, a cost that totals between $7 million and $8 million per year. Blackwell was one of two community outreach liasons hired last summer to “analyze the students who are district residents that attend charter schools in order to develop relationships with the parents and students to attract them to attend MASD,” Kiss said.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .


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