Less than 90 seconds of game time for ineligible player costs California coach an entire season on sidelines

Long Beach Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer — Inner City Players
Long Beach Poly coach Sharrief Metoyer — Inner City Players

In March, one of Southern California’s most respected high school basketball coaches made a statement, intentionally inserting a player he knew to be ineligible in the closing moments of the team’s season-ending playoff loss. The move was made for purely symbolic reasons, with a coach attempting to stand up for a player he felt had been unjustly persecuted.

Long Beach (Cal.) Poly High basketball coach Sharrief Metoyer made his statement. Now the California Interscholastic Federation and Metoyer’s employer are making statements of their own, suspending Metoyer for an entire calendar year because of his decision to insert junior Kameron Chatman in Poly’s loss in the Open Division playoffs semifinal.

As first noted by Gazettes Sports, Metoyer was officially suspended from any activity involving the Poly basketball program for an entire calendar year by the Poly administration, a penalty that was backdated to April 1, 2013. The penalty was levied with an eye on the CIF, with Poly officials realizing that CIF would intervene if it deemed the school’s internal discipline of Metoyer to be lackluster.

In the end, the CIF was all too happy to sanction Poly’s internal discipline, cementing Metoyer’s year of absence from prep basketball but ensuring that the penalty would not last longer than 12 months, either.

“We admire Sharrief, he’s a great person, a great coach, and a great role model,” Poly co-principal Victor Jarels told the Gazettes. “He had a moment, and coaches have to set a higher standard. He’s taken complete responsibility for his actions.”

The year-long penalty feels like a particularly caustic ruling given the length of time that Chatman played. The junior -- who moved to Long Beach and joined the Poly squad so he could live with Metoyer, who is his Godfather -- sat out the entire season until there was 1:12 remaining during Poly’s playoff matchup against fellow SoCal powerhouse program Santa Ana (Cal.) Mater Dei High.

Chatman moved to Southern California to live with Metoyer, but that move was deemed to be made for competition’s sake, which meant that the budding forward couldn’t participate in a competitive game until one year after he arrived at the school.

Metoyer never shirked responsibility for his actions, nor did he ever question his own gut instinct that he had acted the right way.

“Somebody had to make a statement," Metoyer told the Los Angeles Times after the season-ending loss. "The game of basketball means nothing -- we’re supposed to be in the business of helping kids.”

Metoyer’s duties will be fulfilled by longtime Poly junior varsity coach Shelton Diggs during the 2013-14 season. Diggs has extensive experience with the prospective members of the Poly varsity squad in the next school year, so expectations for the Jackrabbits will likely be as high as they would in other years, particularly with Chatman finally eligible to compete.

Of course, that won’t make things any easier for the Poly program or Metoyer. After all, it’s never easy to replace a legend, or for a legend to replace the hole left behind by the program he won’t even be able to watch from the stands.

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