Boyle couple sues KHSAA to allow son to play senior season of basketball

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.comDecember 4, 2012 

A senior at Boyle County High School and his parents have filed a federal lawsuit against the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in an effort to let the student play basketball this season.

The KHSAA has a transfer rule that prohibits a student from participating in athletics at a new school if the transfer is not accompanied with a change in residence before enrollment at the new school. It is possible to get a waiver of the rule, but the lawsuit says that senior Jared Robbins, who formerly attended Burgin High School in Mercer County, was denied a waiver.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Lexington, says Jared, 18, is not pursuing an athletic scholarship for college and has not been recruited by the Boyle County School system, the lawsuit said. He is a 4.0 student with no disciplinary action, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit was filed last month in Boyle Circuit Court and then was moved to federal court.

It is at least the second lawsuit filed against KHSAA in the last month. A similar lawsuit was filed in Pike County last month.

In that case, Mural Silvers, a guardian of student Raynold Kasongo, sought an injunction to allow Raynold to play in the 2012-13 high school basketball season at Pike County Central High School. The complaint does not say why Kasongo was ruled ineligible.

James W. Herald III, the attorney who submitted the lawsuit on behalf of Silvers, did not immediately return a telephone call.

Chad W. Collins, general counsel for KHSAA, said he could not comment on the lawsuit.

In the Robbins case, the lawsuit says that the one-year ineligibility transfer rule "is effectively ruling that Jared will never play high school sports again."

Jared and his parents, Matthew and Amy Robbins, have asked the court for an injunction that would allow Jared to play basketball for Boyle County High School. They also want attorney fees and a jury trial.

Jared's mother, Amy Robbins, declined to comment Tuesday.

Collins told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that Jared was denied a waiver of the transfer rule. Collins said he could not comment further because of the lawsuit.

The family lives in Boyle County.

The lawsuit said Amy Robbins was a teacher at Burgin High School in Mercer County, and the family made the decision for the children to attend the Burgin school district so she could provide transportation to and from school.

Jared's younger brother, Josiah Robbins, transferred to the Boyle County School district in the sixth grade in order to play football. Josiah also played basketball, according to the lawsuit.

With both Jared and Josiah on varsity teams in different schools, the number of games that the boys participated in increased dramatically and created scheduling conflicts for the family.

The parents thought it was important for one parent to be present at every game because Jared's brother was injured at a game where no family member was present, the lawsuit said.

An unforeseen change in Amy Robbins' job that required travel after school precipitated their decision to transfer Jared to Boyle County High School so both boys would be in the same school, the lawsuit said.

An important reason that Jared wanted to transfer, said his attorney William Noelker, was that there were academic opportunities available to him in Boyle County that were not available at Burgin.

The decision by the KHSAA to not allow a waiver of the transfer rule "is arbitrary," and "this strict application is unfair as Jared is not athletically motivated to transfer and simply wants to participate as a student athlete during his senior year of high school," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said the ruling is contrary to a section of the mission statement of the KHSAA that says, "It is the mission of the KHSAA to emphasize participation ... to enhance the educational experience of the student athlete."

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: (859) 230-5209. Twitter:@vhspears.

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