In the latest chapter of LaVar Ball’s never-ending war on amateurism in basketball, a tournament organizer has accused a “consultant” close to the Ball family of demanding a reported $10,000 for an appearance from LaMelo Ball’s high school team.
Greg Procino, organizer of the Hoophall Classic at the Naismith Hall of Fame in Massachusetts, said he received the request after booking LaMelo’s SPIRE Institute team, according to Forbes. Procino reportedly balked at the request, at which point SPIRE pulled out of the tournament.
The curious case of LaMelo Ball, a tournament and a $10K request
Procino noted he never received such a request in his 10 years running the Hoophall Classic, not even when SPIRE played in the Hoophall West event in December. SPIRE reportedly has an idea as to who was responsible for the request.
“The school/program did not request money,” Procino wrote in an email. “An outside ‘consultant’ who requested the change in terms did have certain financial requests. We did not pay them to participate and SPIRE decided not to honor the original agreement for Hoophall Classic. We replaced SPIRE with The Patrick School after the final conversation took place. Games are being cancelled with Spire unless the terms are acceptable to the outside consultant. ”
A source close to SPIRE said Alan Foster, who serves as the the Ball Sports Group’s managing director, is the “consultant” and that he requested $10,000 from the Hoophall. “Alan made certain requests and said LaMelo would not be playing if those requests weren’t met,” the source said.
The SPIRE Institute is now scheduled to participate in The Grind Session, a different tournament at the same time as the Hoophall Classic that is billing SPIRE’s appearance as the Big Baller Beatdown.
SPIRE reportedly claimed to have nothing to do with the request. While travel and lodging are often covered, high schools reportedly don’t typically receive such payments for tournament appearances. Then again, Ball’s high school career is anything but typical.
LaMelo Ball’s amateur status again in question
This isn’t the first time SPIRE has lost an opponent due to its point guard, as several elite basketball schools have cancelled scheduled games against the team citing amateurism concerns. Those concerns are likely very warranted for Ball, even when you disregard this latest report.
While Ball has said he wishes to play college basketball, he has done the following:
played in a Lithuanian professional basketball league (while he wasn’t paid, playing with pros in a pro setting is still an NCAA infraction)
played in his father’s professional basketball league
Any one of those actions would likely cause the NCAA to close the gates on one’s amateur status. All five, as well as these latest whispers of money under the table, and you can imagine that Ball probably doesn’t have to worry about scheduling college visits.
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