Players say they were illegally recruited

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Two basketball players from New York who were declared academically ineligible have stood by their stories that they were recruited by a Southwestern College basketball coach, despite the fact that they signed athletic department paperwork declaring that they reached out to the college first.

Former Jaguar basketball players Keenan Langston and David Warren reiterated that they were approached by SWC associate coach Kyle Colwell last summer. Langston said Colwell approached him after a high school game in Brooklyn in which his team played Warren’s. Both players said Colwell approached them after the game to see if they would be interested in moving to California and playing for the Southwestern College Jaguars. Langston and Warren both said they had not heard of Southwestern College or Colwell before he introduced himself to them. After maintaining contact with the players, Colwell convinced them to fly down to San Diego County to play for the Jags, said Keenan.

California community colleges are not allowed to recruit prospective athletes outside of their immediate districts, much less out of state, according to a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Conference of which SWC is a member. In order for a student to attend an out-of-state school, the student has to “recruit the school,” not the other way around, the spokesperson said.

Toward the end of the season Langston was dropped from his classes because he could not afford the out-of-state tuition and Warren was dropped for not showing up to class. Both players were ineligible to participate in any intercollegiate competition without the appropriate units, yet both players played in eight more games. SWC won four of the games. In February Southwestern had to forfeit the four victories.

“[John Cosentino] would know because he was the one who set up my [class]schedule,” said Langston. “I’m pretty sure he knew what was going on. I guess they continued to let us play without our units, which I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know we didn’t have enough units and I guess they got caught. I thought we were cool for the rest of the semester.”

Langston said he was headed to the locker room to get ready for practice when he was told Consentino wanted to speak to him first. Shortly afterwards Cosentino gave him the news.

“Cosentino told me that I wasn’t eligible to play,” said Langston. “He said I couldn’t play or practice and I was done for the year. I was a little upset and hurt because I wanted to finish out the season and hopefully push to make it to the playoffs.”

Cosentino was contacted by The Sun and asked to comment, but he refused. Colwell has not returned e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.

Sophomore Derrick Thompson said he joined the team before Langston, but soon found out how Langston had made his way from Brooklyn.

“[Langston] was in New York playing,” said Thompson. “Coach Kyle saw him and gave him his phone number and asked him to come to San Diego.”

Thompson said Langston and Warren were visibly upset about not being able to finish out the season.

Dean of Athletics Terry Davis said the athletic department is required to do a weekly check-up on student athletes to make sure they were enrolled in the proper number of units.

Student athletes are required to be enrolled in 12 units during the semester in which they are competing. Davis said Peggy Ball, administrative secretary of athletics, is in charge of checking the players units. He said she provides him with the weekly update.

“I should have known the players were academically ineligible,” said Davis. “I take full responsibility because I didn’t pay attention. No one else is responsible for the ineligible players. I looked at the form and they were marked as ineligible. I didn’t see that.”

Davis said he did not know at the time there was a question of the players being illegally recruited.

“I don’t have any knowledge about the situation other than what was written in The Sun,” said Davis. “I can’t start the process about the situation because I need to get all the facts related to the incident.”

Langston said he moved back to Brooklyn on Feb. 10. At that point, leaving the “Golden State” was the only option he said he had.

“I couldn’t even finish out the semester, so that really messed me up school-wise,” he said. “It made me mad because I wanted to stay. I liked it out there. I wanted to stay and finish school and look forward to next season. I was upset. I was hurt. I was mad, but there was nothing I could really do.”

Langston said he hopes to come back to SWC this September to pick up where he left off.

Davis said he has not spoken to Cosentino or Colwell since the end of the basketball season on Feb. 17 and had not begun any sort of inquiry or investigation. As athletic coordinator, Cosentino is required to attend athletic events on campus when Davis is not available and he also assists in determining athletes’ eligibility.

Davis indicated that SWC Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish is aware of the situation and that he would soon investigate the situation himself or ask for an off- campus investigator.

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