Walker Ruled Ineligible By OHSAA

Bill Walker helped lead Cincinnati North College Hill to consecutive Division III state championships. However, he will not be given a chance to compete for a third. Walker was ruled ineligible by OHSAA on Monday. Click here for more.

Following months of speculation, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Monday that Cincinnati North College Hill High School basketball standout Bill Walker has completed his prep eligibility.

Walker was considered a junior during the 2005-06 season, but documentation from his previous school proved that he should have been considered a senior.

The confusion began with the 2002-03 school year when Walker attended Rose Hill Christian Academy in Ashland, Ky. Walker enrolled at the school as a ninth-grader. However, when he transferred to North College Hill in early 2003, he and his family stated that he was an eighth-grader.

Therefore, Walker competed in 2003-04 as a freshman, 2004-05 as a sophomore, and 2005-06 as a junior. Walker, along with star teammate O.J. Mayo, led the Trojans to back-to-back Division III state championships (2004-05; 2005-06).

Walker is rated as the nation's No. 8 player in the 2007 class.

OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross discussed the situation via teleconference Monday morning.

"It's been a long process and it seems that every time we get to the point where we felt like we were finished reviewing this issue, another piece of information from another school district would pop up and new questions would arise," Ross said. "So, it has probably taken a little longer than what we would have liked. There are really no questions about Billy Walker's enrollment at North College Hill from 2003-2006. He participated in six semesters at North College Hill. I think the questions arise primarily from the year proceeding the 2003-04 school year.

"From the documentation that we have received from Rose Hill Christian School in Ashland, Kentucky, Bill was enrolled there as a ninth-grade student from October of 2002, through January 2003. He participated in 16 basketball games that year, 13 in the first semester and three in the second semester – which began on January 16. His last day of attendance was January 23, and he officially withdrew soon after. If I'm not mistaken, I think that was February 6.

"Those two semesters at Rose Hill Christian School, combined with the six semesters at North College Hill, would complete Bill's eligibility, (according to) our bylaws 4-3-4: ‘After a student completes the eighth grade, or is otherwise eligible for high school athletics, the student shall be eligible for eight semesters taken in order of attendance, whether the student participates (in athletics) or not.'

"This is not a situation that anyone enjoys. We certainly feel for Bill, his family, the players on his team, his coaches, the school and the fans. We would like to thank North College Hill officials who have worked diligently through this process."

Walker has the option of appealing OHSAA's decision. However, there are early rumblings that he -- and possibly also Mayo -- will opt to attend a prep school this coming year.

"Yes, there is the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Board of Control," Ross said. "The next meeting is August 10 and they would have the opportunity then to appeal."

Ross was asked why it took three years to find out Walker's true eligibility.

"Originally, the material that North College Hill had in their possession did not indicate that Bill was considered a ninth-grader in his attendance at Rose Hill Christian school," he said. "When they enrolled him, I am sure that at that point they did not have all the records, and at that point enrolled him as an eighth-grader to finish out that school year. Since that time, the documentation that has been received from Rose Hill has indicated that those two semesters of attendance were classified as a ninth-grader, not an eighth-grader."

Ross further explained how such a snafu could occur.

"Many times when an enrollment occurs, they will take that student in without an official transcript, because often official transcripts do not come until a later period of time," he said. "When (Walker) enrolled, there was a question that they thought he should be in the eighth grade or the ninth grade. They put him in the eighth grade. And when the documentation came during this investigation, it was clear he was considered a ninth-grader at Rose Hill Christian School."

OHSAA received the new information regarding Walker's eligibility in March. But it wanted to take its time in reaching a decision.

"It was right around the (state) basketball tournament," Ross said. "(The investigation) started very soon after the state tournament was over. The issue had come up and it was sent to our office and we then forwarded any question or information that we had to North College Hill. We then brought the family in and the school officials in and we sat down and had a conversation here. That was the 20th of April or so. From then, it was dealing with the schools that were involved."

North College Hill principal Kelly Hughes was unavailable for the teleconference, although she did issue a statement.

"There has been conflicting information about Bill insofar as what year in school he was enrolled prior to his arrival at North College Hill," Hughes said. "Based on information provided to us and records received at his enrollment (February 2003), Bill was enrolled as an eighth grade student at North College Hill Junior-Senior High School.

"The documentation the OHSAA recently shared with us indicates that Bill completed two semesters of eligibility prior to his arrival at NCH, and, obviously, he has completed six semesters while at our school. While we are sad and disappointed for Bill, his teammates and our community, we have the utmost respect for the OHSAA and Commissioner Ross and believe the ruling was made accurately based on the information they have received."

Ross said Hughes is fully on board with the OHSAA's decision.

"Her comment to me was that they strongly support what we've done and they strongly support the upholding of the bylaws from the information that we've received," Ross said.

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