High School Basketball

Five-star point guard’s father seeks court injunction against KHSAA ineligibility ruling

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Five-star sophomore point guard Zion Harmon’s eligibility case with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is now before a Western Kentucky judge.

Harmon, a state champion as an eighth-grader at Bowling Green, enrolled at Marshall County this summer, his fourth school in four years. Harmon played for Adair County last season, but moved again only to see his eligibility waiver denied by the KHSAA. Without the waiver, Harmon must sit out a year athletically as a transfer student.

According to court documents obtained by The Paducah Sun on Thursday, Mike Harmon, Zion’s father, filed an injunction on Zion’s behalf on Wednesday with the Marshall Circuit Court.

The injunction alleges that part of Bylaw 6 of the KHSAA’s charter – which governs the transfer of student-athletes – as it is currently written, is unconstitutional, with its emphasis on the change being deemed as athletically-motivated.

It also alleges a lack of due process in Zion’s case because the Harmons say they were not given notice of the evidence against them by the KHSAA.

On Oct. 16, the filing states, hearing officer Edmund Karem recommended Zion not be granted a waiver as it relates to Bylaw 6. While a subsequent ruling by KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett on Nov. 15 determined that Zion did, in fact, have a bona fide change of address, Tackett also held that Zion Harmon remain ineligible because “Zion Harmon’s transfer to Marshall County was motivated ‘in whole or in part’ by athletics,” according to the complaint.

There are four major points of contention in the injunction.

• First, it alleges Bylaw 6 does not have enough due process protection for individuals seeking transfer on those grounds – which Harmon claims is a violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

• Secondly, Section 3 of Bylaw 6, which establishes the allowance of exceptions, is arbitrarily enforced and lends itself to “capricious interpretation by the KHSAA to the detriment of others, including the plaintiff (the Harmons).”

• As Bylaw 6 is written, Section 3(d) — which states that “If a student participates on nonschool (i.e. AAU, American Legion, club settings, summer program, etc.) team that is affiliated with or coached by a coach associated in that same sport at a member school and the student then transfers to the member school where a coach is employed (paid or volunteer at any level)” — is a constitutional violation of Mike Harmon’s right to parent his son, the injunction contends.

• Finally, while the KHSAA granted Mike and Zion Harmon the right to have their case heard, no notice was given of the evidence the KHSAA planned to use against them in the hearing, which the suit claims is a violation of the KHSAA’s own due process statutes, including a prior story in The Sun, which made up six of 15 “Findings of Fact” in the case.

As of Thursday afternoon, no hearing date to address the injunction had been set.

William C. Adams, the attorney representing the Harmons, declined to comment, saying only that he does not comment on cases already in litigation.

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