There was a compromise for East St. John quarterback Marquise Darensbourg when all was said and done.
The LHSAA’s executive committee granted Darensbourg, a Destrehan transfer, eligibility starting Oct. 1 at East St. John after a lengthy discussion during Thursday’s executive committee meeting at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge.
“I’m just happy I get to play,” a smiling Darensbourg said afterward.
The executive committee considered a variety of options. At one point, motions were made to both overturn and uphold LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine’s decision to rule Darensbourg ineligible less than a minute apart. Neither motion got a second.
Ultimately, the committee voted to allow Darensbourg to begin competing Oct. 1, a year after he moved into the East St. John school zone to live with his father. ESJHS and Destrehan are District 7-5A rivals.
“They listened and they considered the situation with this kid,” East St. John coach Alden Foster said. “That’s what we’re excited about. In the past, rulings like this have pretty much been open and shut. You didn’t have a chance.
“They took the time to consider the situation and to do what’s best for this kid. There was a hardship here. People don’t understand that this isn’t like college, there are no redshirt years. This is his junior year and he’ll have the chance to play part of it.”
Darensbourg started 13 of 14 games for Class 5A runner-up Destrehan last fall as a sophomore and passed for 1,396 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 595 yards and seven more TDs.
The case was complicated by the fact that Darensbourg chose to continue attending Destrehan for several months after moving in with his father because of a financial hardship.
Foster told the committee that the troublesome commute prompted Malcolm Darensbourg to enroll his son at ESJ in February. Statements made in the media about the transfer by Darensbourg were misconstrued, according to the family. The fact that the parents altered their custody agreement in March to ensure he could play also clouded the issue and the discussion.
East St. John contended the parents altered the custody agreement in attempt to follow LHSAA rules after contacting the LHSAA office. They denied that the move was made for athletic purposes. The family refuted written statements from Destrehan which noted there were issues over split playing time.
“I’m relieved,” Darensbourg’s father, Malcolm, said.
Bonine said cases like Darensbourg’s and Ellender’s Davontavean Martin probably should have gone through the hardship committee.
“I think that’s something we’ll have to look into moving forward,” Bonine said. “I believe this committee’s job is more about governance, and in the future cases like these probably should go through hardship.”
Martin, a basketball player who played at South Terrebonne, was granted eligibility at Ellender, pending an administrative transfer agreement in Terrebonne Parish.
It was the second straight day of a ruling associated with East St. John.
On Wednesday, East Jefferson defensive back Dontrell Allen was ruled ineligible after transferring from East St. John. Allen would be eligible if he returned to East St. John.
“If he comes back to East St. John, he will be eligible after 30 days,” Foster said. “I just hope whoever is influencing him and giving him advice would allow him to enjoy his senior season. Every year is special, but your senior season is really special.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Allen is rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports and committed to play at Mississippi State.
Three other eligibility appeals were denied.
The executive committee granted immediate membership to Mentorship Academy, a week after Bonine ruled the Baton Rouge-based 2A was left without valid LHSAA membership when it closed one of its two schools that was granted membership in 2013.
Mentorship was originally two schools under one roof. Bonine said Mentorship met all the criteria to apply for membership based on its science and technology school’s closure.
Principal Robert Webb Jr. of Mentorship paid the school’s membership fees and bond to play football on Thursday, clearing the way for the Sharks to face 5A Central on Friday night.
Other actions Thursday included:
Denying Calvary Baptist’s request to grant eligibility to a student involved in a sportsmanship violation at the LHSAA’s state track meet in the spring.
Hearing a series of reports, including one from Bonine, who told the group that he plans to take the edict from the membership to follow the LHSAA’s rules to heart, but noted that several rules, including the parish boundary rule for eligibility must be “cleaned up.”
Holding adults/coaches responsible for their actions is another key point for the LHSAA moving forward.