The Curie Metropolitan High School boys varsity basketball team, ranked among the best in the nation, was stripped of its 24 wins this season and the Chicago high school championship title, officials said Friday, citing academic ineligibility.
A Chicago Public Schools investigation found that seven Curie boys varsity basketball players were found to be academically ineligible since the start of the 2013-14 season, officials said. CPS requires students to maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average or have a signed certified Individual Study Plan.
“Chicago Public Schools has a proud tradition of athletic competition and sportsmanship, but our number one responsibility to our students is providing them with a solid academic foundation that will serve them the rest of their lives,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. “A District investigation into the academic eligibility of members of the Curie Metropolitan High School boys varsity basketball team found that a number of the players are academically ineligible to compete and, as a result, their season must be forfeited.”
The players were not named following the investigation.
CPS said it will not award a boys varsity basketball championship title this year and noted Curie’s head coach Michael Oliver will be suspended from coaching for a period to be determined by Byrd-Bennett.
“As adults, educators and mentors, it is our responsibility to teach our students right from wrong and, unfortunately, the adults let these student athletes down by failing to do that and comply with CPS policies,” Byrd-Bennett said.
Chicago Public Schools revealed it was investigating Curie hours before the school, ranked No. 1 in basketball in Illinois and No. 2 in the country, competed against Whitney Young High School for the city title on Feb. 21.
The game, which Curie won in four overtimes, drew national attention because two players, Young's Jahlil Okafor and Curie's Cliff Alexander, are considered by some to be the best in the nation.
Despite having been ineligible to compete in CPS this season, all members of the Curie boys varsity team are currently eligible to compete in the Illinois High School Association state tournament beginning March 3, according to CPS officials.
To meet IHSA eligibility, students must be passing five courses and achieving a minimum of 2.5 credits at the time of the tournament.
IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said in a statement that the organization is still reviewing the district's report on the investigation, and it will be in a position to make a decision by Monday.