Reader: SN Top 10 raises question about Vandebilt debacle

VooDoo works on barbecue, too
January 7, 2014
Carla Bernard Sapia
January 8, 2014

Dear Editor,

In the fall of 2010, E.D. White alleged that a cross-country runner (8th grader) for Vandebilt was an ineligible runner at their meet. No violation was found. 

The LHSAA advised Laury Dupont, Vandebilt’s athletic director, that if the family acquired a custody decree, since she and her mom were living in Houma, the student-athlete would be eligible under the Separation and Divorce Rule, within 45 days from the judgment, without any limitation on when she could return to the family home in Thibodaux. Jim Reiss, Vandebilt’s principal, asked me, in writing, to assist getting the decree. 

This was done. Everyone thought, end of story.

In 2013, it was learned that Vandebilt’s administration asked for an eligibility ruling in 2010 under the wrong rule, the Bonafide Move Rule. This student-athlete never met the requirements under the Bonafide Move Rule. The father never left the family home in Thibodaux. 

To compound their mistake, the Vandebilt administration asked for another eligibility ruling in 2013 under the Bonafide Move Rule. When I advised Laury Dupont and Jim Reiss of their mistake requesting a ruling under the wrong rule, a letter was sent by Jim Reiss to the LHSAA acknowledging Vandebilt administration’s mistake and requested that the investigation be terminated since the student-athlete met the requirements under the Separation and Divorce Rule. 

The LHSAA chose to continue the investigation under the Bonafide Move Rule as requested by Vandebilt. The LHSAA found the student-athlete ineligible under the Bonafide Move Rule. 

Note: the Separation and Divorce Rule states that it SHALL be the rule applied to determine eligibility when there is a custody decree. It was not followed.

On behalf of the family, I filed the subsequent legal matter to force the LHSAA to apply their own rule. It was the right thing to do for a family that did all that Vandebilt asked.

Vandebilt’s administration has chosen not to publicly accept responsibility for their egregious errors in this matter, but chose to hide behind a gag order they placed on the girls’ basketball coach (Jay Luke’s wife), threatening her job and benefits if she talked to the media. Then they chose not to rehire her, which obviously made it appear she did something wrong.

Vandebilt’s administration was charged with the duty to represent and fight for a student whose family did all they were asked.

Vandebilt’s administration failed to do this.

Jay Luke

Houma, La.