UIL rules Yates basketball player transferred for athletic reasons
AUSTIN — The University Interscholastic League's state executive committee on Tuesday denied an appeal by Yates forward Maurice Letcher-Ellis and ruled that the junior changed schools for athletic purposes, making him ineligible for varsity play for the upcoming boys basketball season.
Letcher-Ellis, who spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Cypress Springs, enrolled at Yates for the 2010-11 school year after he and his family moved into the Yates attendance zone over the summer. Cypress Springs coach John Harmatuk indicated on Letcher-Ellis' Previous Athletic Participation Form — a required document for any student-athlete who changes schools — that he believed that Letcher-Ellis changed schools for athletic purposes.
The District 21-4A Executive Committee ruled on Sept. 30 that Letcher-Ellis did change schools for athletic reasons and the family appealed the decision, which was denied by a unanimous 3-0 vote on Tuesday by the UIL's SEC after hearing testimony from Harmatuk, Yates coach Greg Wise, Houston ISD assistant athletic director and 21-4A DEC chairman Dave Hudek and Johnessa Letcher, Maurice's mother.
Student-athletes who change schools for athletic reasons are ineligible to play varsity athletics for one year. Letcher-Ellis, a 6-8 forward who is a Division I prospect and has offers from Arkansas-Little Rock, Detroit and Wichita State, will play on Yates' junior varsity team this season and join the varsity in 2011-12.
Yates is coming off its second consecutive Class 4A state championship. The Lions have won 58 consecutive games dating back to the 2008-09 season and finished 2009-10 as the nation's No. 1 ranked team by five national high school polls. The Lions open their season on Nov. 15 against Dickinson at Delmar Fieldhouse.