SAN ANTONIO – St. Anthony Catholic High School has left the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) after five of its boys basketball team members were ruled ineligible to play at the start of the regular season.
The group of ineligible players included 6-foot-10 sophomore Charles Bassey, one of the most highly-recruited players in the nation.
St. Anthony High School principal Dr. Rene Escobedo said in statement that the board of directors approved the school to withdraw from TAPPS to join the Texas Christian Athletic League (T-CAL).
Escobedo added in the statement: “The move will provide SACHS the chance to compete against high schools similar in size in academics, fine arts and athletics, providing more opportunities for all SACHS students in these areas.”
Escobedo confirmed to KSAT all the players who were ruled ineligible can now participate on the basketball team, and are expected to play when the Yellow Jackets take the court Tuesday against St. Augustine in Laredo.
The players who were ruled ineligible including Bassey were Ousmane Ndim, Sam Chaput, Obi Prosper and Jordan Persad.
Bassey was the only player on last year’s roster when the Yellow Jackets advanced to the TAPPS Class 5A state championship game. The other four were first-year students at St. Anthony High School.
TAPPS ruled those students ineligible on Nov. 17 because it viewed their tuition, room and board as an inducement to attend St. Anthony.
St. Anthony began the season that day and continued to play without its full roster, but the story took another turn when former head coach Jeff Merritt was fired on Nov. 29 for playing Bassey in a game against Beeville Jones.
St. Anthony fires head coach Jeff Merritt for playing ineligible player Charles Bassey. Story, statement: https://t.co/edPxe5Z6Fd #KSATnews pic.twitter.com/zjcc0xrWDX— RJ Marquez (@KSATRJ) December 1, 2016
Merritt issued a statement Monday that said he did not agree with the decision to terminate his employment, but added he made the decision to play Bassey with the best of intentions.
Merritt also said the move to T-CAL is a positive decision and he would continue to support the school, administration and his former players.
Escobedo told KSAT the current basketball schedule was expected to stay the same, but some additional games may be added as well.