These are the Top Eight issues that former Nothern Guilford basketball coach Stan Kowalewski wants to get straight as many questions still need to be answered surrounding the Nothern Guilford Nighthawk basketball program.
I spoke with Coach K today and here is what he had to say:
1) My current purpose/initiative/focus — My sole focus is the players that have been wrongly punished by Guilford County and the NCHSAA. All of my efforts are directed towards our 2009 state championship being returned to Northern Guilford. I will utilize all of my efforts to help our families correct this tragedy that Guilford County Schools has caused. This is not about me or where I will coach next, my coaching career is on the back burner until my kids get their title back.
2) Players leaving Northern – We have two ineligible players according to Guilford County and if their punishment is not overturned, they will be forced to attend either a private school or go out-of-state. I have advised those players’ families that if the punishment is not overturned, that I will do everything in my power to help them get to another school that will help them grow as a student-athlete. The N&R incorrectly reported that I “urged” my players to leave Guilford County Schools. When I have been asked (over the last few days) for my advice regarding what should they do for next year — my response has been that “based on what I have seen with my own eyes regarding Guilford County School’s tactics, I would not advise attending public school in Guilford County.” Please understand that I also told our parents that this is their own decision and that I can only offer advice based off my experiences. My own children attend Guilford County Schools and my wife and I are now seriously re-considering where to send them next year. I went to public school myself , as did my wife, and we are advocates for public schools. I am concerned when I don’t see Guilford County Schools doing anything with our children’s well being placed at the forefront.
3) Northern Guilford Community Support – The support that my family has received from the families affiliated with Northern Guilford has been outstanding and I also appreciate the faculty support that I have received. Northern Guilford HS had some great administrators and still has some great faculty. It is still a fantastic academic school with outstanding facilities. In addition, I have heard nothing but praise for incoming principal Will Laine and I hope that he can do as great a job as Joe Yeager did and be there for the kids. Over the last month, the kids at Northern have been ignored, forgotten and neglected and that is unfortunate. Kids are smart and they know who is genuine and who is not.
4) Equality – I have no problem with investigations if there are facts presented to warrant an investigation. I seriously question starting an investigation based off rumors, gossip and coaches who are looking for excuses instead of in the mirror. But, if Guilford County wants to investigate based off rumors and gossip, then they must investigate ALL Guilford County Schools and also spend as much time and spend as much money as they did on the Northern investigation. That is being fair.
5) Proof – I seriously question Guilford County Schools’ assertion that our Athletic Director, Derrell Force, and our Principal, Joe Yeager, “should have known” that Northern had ineligible players. I know for a fact that all of the basketball players provided the necessary documentation to be eligible according to the residency requirements put forth by Guilford County. Northern asks for the same documentation (proof of ownership/rental agreement and utility bills) that all other county schools and schools across the state are asking for. In addition, our Athletic Director and Principal were contacted by the county to investigate if X kid was living at X address. I know this, because some parents told me that Coach Force and/or Mr. Yeager came to their house. The bottom line is that our AD and Principal did what they were asked to do by Guilford County and I have seen no proof that “they should have known” that there were ineligible players at Northern.
6) Recruiting – I was very happy to see the e-mails released by the county last week, in fact I wish they had been released months ago. Those e-mails showed two things: 1) Lots of jealous coaches inside and outside Guilford County that chose to make false allegations against my players, our program and I and 2) that on all occassions that we were contacted by families wanting to attend Northern, we told them that we couldn’t talk to them until they were enrolled at Northern. My AD and I approached this topic straight to the letter and handled each instance the same way. I regret that the N&R did not mention, but briefly, those types of e-mails that my AD and I had responded to. The bottom line – we have never recruited players. Do families want their children to attend the best schools and play sports for the best coaches? Absolutely. What is Northern Guilford guilty of? Being a great school and hiring great coaches to build great programs.
7) What’s Next – The parents, community, players and I are committed to fight to get our state title rightfully restored. There are various avenues that are being pursued and everyone has the energy to carry this fight as long as it takes. I am very confident that we will prevail and have our state title returned. This is the sole priority at this time. My players have been left out in the cold by Guilford County and we will fight for them, since the school system and our School Board representative, Darlene Garrett have turned their backs on Northern Guilford. There are two fights that are taking place 1) Regarding the state title which was taken away because our AD and Principal “should have known” there were ineligible players and 2) the two basketball families that have had their sons declared ineligible have retained attorneys and are preparing to challenge the NCHSAA’s ruling and Guilford County’s investigation.
8) Overwhelming Support – It is not difficult to summon the energy to fight when you know in your heart that you have been wronged and when you receive the tremendous amount of support from the city, county, state and across the country as we have. College coaches, community leaders, friends, enemies and neutral observers alike ahve said the same —that we the victims of a witchhunt and that this entire situation should have been avoided.