New York school may get "death penalty" for recruiting violations

Apache Paschall, one of the most outspoken and controversial girls basketball coaches in the nation, has landed himself in some serious hot water, with his current school, Nazareth (N.Y.) High in Brooklyn, on the verge of being forced to cancel its entire season and facing a lengthy probation period ... or worse. In fact, Nazareth might even be forced to cancel the 2011-12 season, as well, all for serious recruiting violations. Essentially, the school is facing the high school version of the NCAA "death penalty" handed down to SMU in 1987.

According to the New York Daily News, which first reported on Paschall's violations, the problems facing Nazareth stem from the school's incorporation of a number of players from Paschall's former school, St. Michael's, after it closed this summer. The Daily News reported that half of the former nationally ranked St. Michael's team is now competing for Nazareth, with seven upperclassmen now enrolled at Nazareth and six freshmen who had enrolled at St. Michael's now Nazareth students as well.

"All I can say is that I didn't do anything," Paschall told the Daily News. "I'm very (familiar) with the rules. I've read them. They're open to the public. I know how to read. All I can do is concentrate on basketball. I've done nothing wrong."

While some of the personal touches of Paschall's alleged violations are most head-turning, the case may be an open-and-shut one based purely on financial data. The Daily News is reporting that the new students who followed Paschall were allowed to pay $5,000 tuition, the amount they paid at St. Michael's which is $3,000 less than what all other students pay to attend Nazareth.

That cost reduction qualifies as a scholarship, which violates the terms of the Catholic High School Athletic Association's recruiting clause, which stipulates that no athletes can receive financial aid in conjunction with expected participation in varsity sports.

Still, while those financial terms may be grounds to put Nazareth on a serious probation, Paschall's personal touches with some of his most prized student athletes are a bit more revealing, as they border on the in-home visits to high school seniors most cherished by persuasive college coaches.

In another article that previously appeared at, the mother of Shiclasia Brown, one of the nation's most highly regarded freshmen prospects, told the newspaper that it was a personal visit to herself and Brown's grandmother that inspired them to push Brown to attend Nazareth rather than Christ the King, a traditional New York City-area powerhouse.

"It was just a certain vibe that I got from Apache that made me feel comfortable," Shiron Cummings, Brown's mother, told the Daily News for the story that was published last month.

While that personal touch might not seem so sinister, it appears to be a clear case of recruiting, providing yet more ammunition for the CHSAA against the Nazareth program. Seems the only question now is how drastic the penalties against the program will be, and whether a school can ever truly recover from a coaching era that lasted less than four months before landing the school in hot water.

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