The long-awaited arbitration hearing for Episcopal’s Clement Mubungirwa is finally set.
An arbitrator will listen to the cases presented by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and Episcopal during a 10 a.m. Thursday hearing at the LHSAA office.
LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said the hearing will be closed to the public and the media. Henderson said a decision could be made Thursday, but said the arbitrator has up to 14 days to provide a decision.
“I’m not sure either side knows what to expect,” Henderson said. “This is something new for everybody. We turned this over to our attorney (Brad Lewis), and we’ll see what happens.”
The arbitration hearing is the latest chapter in the saga of Mubungirwa, an African immigrant whose March appeal for an added year of eligibility in football and soccer was denied by the LHSAA’s executive committee. The EHS senior was born 55 days before the LHSAA’s cutoff date to be eligible as a 19-year-old.
The American Arbitration Association has assigned an arbitrator to handle the case, as required by a law the Legislature passed in the spring. The law requires the LHSAA to go to third-party arbitration in cases like Mubungirwa’s.
As a junior, Mubungirwa ran for 1,385 yards and 19 touchdowns in what was his third season of organized football and first as a running back. He also scored 33 goals and had 11 assists in soccer.
“What I’d like people to understand this is about giving a young man a chance to compete and nothing more,” Episcopal Athletic Director Myra Mansur said. “There are people out there saying a lot of things that just aren’t true, like we’re a win-at-all-costs school.
“That’s simply not the case. I’ve thought about all the possible scenarios. I’d be happy if he (Mubungirwa) could get in on a few plays each week. Honestly, it’s not about winning.”
Mansur said an attorney will represent the school during the arbitration hearing. The school was required to put down an advance fee to cover costs of the arbitration based on what the AAA charges will be. If the arbitrator rules in Episcopal’s favor, the LHSAA will pay the cost of the arbitration and the money advanced will be returned to the school and the LHSAA will pick up the cost.