First, there was a news conference. Next, a lawsuit was filed against the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and a temporary restraining order was granted.
Then, nine Capitol High football players who were denied an eligibility hardship appeal the day before by an LHSAA hardship committee suited up for a Thursday game against McKinley High at Memorial Stadium.
Metro Council representative C. Denise Marcelle got the wild afternoon started with a news conference held in front of the school.
Alumni, cheerleaders, the nine football players, parents and a group of alumni gathered behind Marcelle as she addressed the media at 3 p.m.
At that time, Marcelle said a lawsuit against the LHSAA was being filed on behalf of the players by the State Recovery School District and that a temporary restraining order was being sought.
The restraining order was granted at approximately 5:50 p.m., just over an hour before the game.
“These students started out at Capitol High School in either the ninth or 10th grade,” Marcelle said. “If they had not left Capitol, they would still be eligible. Some of the parents moved their kids because it was uncertain whether Capitol would be here this year. They were misled.
“Once it was determined that Capitol would be open, they returned. This is a special circumstance. I feel they should have been granted the hardship and be allowed to play.”
Jamar Robertson, Travis Hebert, Jonathan Banks, Christopher Williams, Joshua Claverie, Carl Carney, Javonta Rogers, D’Vondre Sullivan and D’Aunte Sullivan were the players who played once the restraining order was granted.
LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said his office was not notified about the lawsuit or restraining order on Thursday.
“We’ve heard things, and I’ve read your (The Advocate) website,” Henderson said. “But we have not been informed about the lawsuit or the restraining order. Someone was in our office all day. I suppose we’ll be notified tomorrow (Friday).”
The suit was filed against the LHSAA by the Recovery School District through the Louisiana Department of Education.
The RSD took control of Capitol High in May after 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge Inc. returned the charter to operate the school.
By that time, however, more than 100 students, including some members of the football squad, had transferred to other schools amid rumors that Capitol would close.
The suit, seeking reversal of the LHSAA’s decision barring the nine football players from rejoining the team, was filed at 4:32 p.m. Thursday with the 19th Judicial District Clerk’s Office. It was signed by attorney Troy Anthony Humphrey for the Department of Education and state Rep. Michael L. Jackson, attorney for the student-athletes.
District Judge Janice Clark, the duty judge Thursday, signed a temporary restraining order against the LHSAA at 5:50 p.m., clearing the way for the players to compete Thursday night.
Clark later said she also scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on the plaintiffs’ request for preliminary and permanent injunctions against the LHSAA. The judge said that hearing may continue on Wednesday.
A five-member LHSAA hardship committee voted by a 4-1 margin Wednesday to reject Capitol’s hardship appeal after listening to the case presented by Principal Onetha Albert and others, including Jackson and Marcelle.
“We were told by a lot of people that it (Capitol) was going to close, so we moved our son to another school,” parent Trina Robertson said after the news conference. “My husband and I both graduated from Capitol.
“There was no doubt that this is where Jamar wanted to be. We were shocked by the ruling. We didn’t expect it.”
Toye Hebert, mother of Travis Hebert, added, “I didn’t think it (LHSAA decision) was right.”
Both Robertson and Toye Hebert identified former Capitol football coach Chadwick Germany as the person who told players to leave the school by April 1.
The LHSAA denied the appeal on Wednesday, noting that the players were ineligible because they broke their chain of attendance at Capitol by transferring to other schools.
Germany, himself a former Capitol player and now a Southern University assistant coach, refuted those claims.
“No, I have never told a kid to leave Capitol,” Germany said. “I had a meeting with all the kids and I told them ?You and your parents have to make the decision.’ There was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen, and I tried to find answers.
“Basically, the door was open. I did tell those kids that if they wanted to compete in spring football at another school, the cutoff was April 1.
“In this situation someone has to be the bad guy and carry the burden of the blame. The truth be told, everyone made what they thought was the best decision for their kids. I love Capitol and will always hold it in the highest regard.”