Shakey Situation: Krop High Shouldn't Have Escaped Disqualification

shakeywrightphoto.jpg
Steve Satterwhite
Bernard Wright (center, standing) flanks coach Shakey Rodriguez during their FIU days.
This news story will appear in Wednesday's issue of New Times. It includes reporting that was published last week on our news blog, and which was referenced without attribution in this weekend's Miami Herald.

Beansprout teenage basketball players from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High, all wearing purple tracksuits, filled two rows of wooden pews in a Downtown courtroom last Wednesday afternoon. Their parents and girlfriends - along with a few local politicians angling for publicity - filled the rest of the hall.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) appeared to have only one representative in court: A somber lawyer who spoke in haughty legalese.

Anybody who's ever watched a Disney movie could identify the good guys here. And when Judge Spencer Eig ruled that Krop, the state's number-one-ranked team, should be allowed to participate in the playoffs despite the opposition of the sport's governing body, the crowd burst into hooting applause.

The Miami Herald had editorialized that the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) had "overreacted with the harshest possible punishment" in disqualifying Bahamian guard Brian Delancy's for his failure to file immigration paperwork, forcing the forfeit of every game he had played. Virtually every news outlet, from NBC Miami to WSVN-TV, treated the judge's ruling as a feel-good story.

Except for this one. Because as New Times has discovered, Delancy's immigration paperwork is the least of his eligibility concerns. The boy's coach, Marcos "Shakey" Rodriguez, is notorious for skirting recruiting regulations. His legal guardian, Bernard Wright, was on the coaching staff of a 1998 Miami High team stripped of its state title for rampant cheating. And it appears that Delancy doesn't even live within the Krop High zone. "We tried to get the school to tell us where he lives under oath and it took us asking three times," comments FHSAA executive director Dr. Roger Dearing. "Finally, they said he lives primarily with his mother...There's something going on with this kid."

But doesn't Delancy's mom live in the Bahamas? "That's another good question," said Dearing. "Apparently, she was living here, but she moved to the Bahamas. All I can say is it's a good question."

Shakey Rodriguez, who rakes in $76,750 annually to coach winners, isn't interested in clearing the confusion. "I got nothing to say to you, dude," the stocky coach, sporting his trademark look of sunglasses perched above combed-down bangs, intoned when confronted at the court hearing. "Leave it at that."

Krop athletic director Michael Kypriss also refuses to answer questions. "Come on man, be happy for us!" he boomed when asked about the living situation after the hearing, shrouding Delancy with his large frame and loping away from the courthouse. ""We met all the eligibility requirements! Come on man, I thought you'd be happy for us!"

Delancy guardian Bernard Wright-- the most important actor in this drama-- is less sanguine. Wright is a notorious youth basketball recruiter with a criminal record who was the assistant coach of that disgraced 1998 Miami High team that included Heat stalwart Udonis Haslem. "Don't you ever fucking call this number again," he barks when reached by a reporter. "You're a fucking scum bag and if I ever fucking catch you near me, you're going to regret it. You better lose this fucking number."

This publication's history with local youth ball legend Shakey Rodriguez-- who has almost 600 high school wins to his credit-- and his cronies dates back to the mid-1990s. Rodriguez, who earned his nickname, he likes to say, because he "can never stand still," won five championships in 13 years as the head coach of the juggernaut Miami High Stingarees, a squad that always seemed stocked with elite ballplayers from around the country. Rodriguez was often accused of breaking recruiting rules, but never caught. Wright was his assistant coach.

In 1995, Rodriguez took over FIU's basketball team. The new Miami High coach was Frank Martin. Wright stayed to become Martin's assistant coach.

Three years later, Miami High won the 1998 state championship with perhaps its most formidable team ever, featuring preternaturally-talented teens like Haslem and current Los Angeles Laker Steve Blake. But the title was tainted.

A New Times investigation, published one week before that year's title game, exposed that five of the team's players― including Haslem and Blake ― were registered as living with coaches or boosters, in violation of state recruitment rules. Player residence records in the school district database led to bogus addresses, and those addresses were mysteriously changed several times as a reporter began sniffing around. FHSAA Commissioner Ron Davis, calling Miami High's manipulation of residency records the most "blatant violation of FHSAA rules against recruiting that I have encountered", stripped the team of its title and barred them from playing the next year.

What was Bernard Wright's true role on the disqualified team? According to two anonymous sources quoted in the New Times investigation, he occupied a position that's not supposed to exist in high school sports: He was a recruiter.

"He always would come up to me and tell me, 'Got a chance of getting another kid,'" said one source, a former FIU athletics employee. "'Got a chance of getting this kid for Miami High.' That was his whole thing. That was all he was supposed to do."

Another source told New Times that Bernard was the guy charged with making trips to other school districts around the country to poach talent.

In the 1998 fallout, Frank Martin was canned. In 2007, he was hired as head coach of the vaunted Kansas State University men's basketball team, where he remains. Bernard Wright left Miami High as well, snagging the assistant coach position under old buddy Shakey Rodriguez at Florida International.

In 2000, another New Times investigation revealed chaos on that FIU squad. Future NBA baller Carlos Arroyo had punched a team manager in the face. Three were questionable grade changes for student athletes. And Coach Rodriguez had managed to stock his staff and squad with old faces from the disgraced Miami High team.

The story also detailed Bernard Wright's shady personal history. The co-owner of Three Fingers Lounge, a violence-plagued package store and bar in inner Miami, he been charged with a misdemeanor for hiring nude dancers without a license. His criminal history also included driving with a stolen tag. Both charges were ultimately dismissed. In 1998, he had been ousted from the Miami-Dade Department of Children & Families, where he was a full-time caseworker, after a three-year-old girl whose case he had handled was left in her parents' care and beaten to death.

Shakey Rodriguez resigned two weeks after that story was published. Bernard Wright was soon released. Since taking over the Krop High team in 2004, Rodriguez has once again built another dubious dream team. His superstar player, the NBA-potential guard Angel Rodriguez, lived in Puerto Rico until last year, his junior season, and played for the national team there. He's now committed to Frank Martin's Kansas State team. Sophomore Trevin Joseph was on a team that won a state championship in Georgia last year. And ― as evidenced by Brian Delancy's living situation ― Shakey Rodriguez clearly hasn't cut ties with notorious recruiter Bernard Wright.

In recent years, if you believe news reports, Wright has developed a model: Recruit overseas players to high schools not recognized by the FHSAA, act as their legal guardian, and pass them off to officially-sanctioned schools.

That's what he did with African basketball players Bernard Morena and Willy Kouassi. In 2009, Wright was the basketball coach at the now-defunct Choice Learning Academy in Miami. Morena and Kouassi lived with him, according to a Birmingham News article. After the school went belly-up ― felled by a grading scandal, according to the Alabama paper ― the two ended up at Birmingham's Division-1 Central Park Christian School.

And that's also what Wright did with Brian Delancy, who left his native Bahamas three years ago and enrolled at Choice, then transferred Davie's Westlake Prep before coming to Krop at the beginning of this school year. Now Wright appears to have gone into business for himself. In 2007, he etsablished a corporation--one of eight he's filed papers for--called Urban Youth Foundation, Inc., which lists as its address 2025 Northwest First Ave. ― the same location as Center of Life Academy, where Wright has been listed as the basketball team's head coach. The foreign-born players that have been on Wright's team include Puerto Rican star Edvardo Burrows, who recently transferred to California's Renaissance Academy.

According to FHSAA rules, student athletes can't live with any school employee, athletic staff member, or "representative of the school's athletic interests." Does the association's executive director, Dearing, believe Bernard Wright falls into the latter category given his reputation as a recruiter and his relationship with Shakey Rodriguez? "It's certainly suspect," he says. "That's something we'll address at the next hearing."

According to a Sun-Sentinel article, Delancy's parents stayed in the Bahamas when he relocated to Miami. But if he lives with his guardian, Bernard Wright, he's a good ten miles out of Krop High's school zone ― and should be suiting up to play in American Senior High red, white, and blue. Wright's been listed for years as living in an apartment on Northwest 186th Street in Hialeah. When he was pulled over for his most recent traffic infraction ― running his black Jaguar through a stop sign in March 2008 ― that's the address he gave the officer. It's also where he's currently registered to vote.

Or maybe Delancy lives by himself. According to school district data from earlier this month, Delancy's listed address was 21110 Northeast Ninth Ave. That sounds like it would be closer to Krop High, which is located on County Line Road near Aventura.
One problem, as confirmed by Miami-Dade property records: There's no such address. Ninth Avenue just doesn't stretch that far North.

Recently, Delancy's address was apparently changed. It's now listed as 915 Northeast 213 Terrace, a convenient few blocks away from the school. That's a gated apartment, although Delancy hadn't listed a unit number. The security guard at the gate helpfully informed New Times that no Delancys, or Bernard Wright, are among the building's listed residents. The roll is updated every day, the guard added.

Delancy's eligibility conflicts first surfaced after administrators at a rival school― believed to be Carol City High ―brought problems to the FHSAA's attention. They claimed the Bahamian guard hadn't filed required immigration paperwork upon his transfer to Krop. Faced with the prospect of $2000-plus-per-game fines for playing Delancy after being informed of the lapse, Krop benched him starting January 27.

A few days later, the FHSAA ruled that Delancy was ineligible, retroactively forfeiting the 19 games he had played in and dashing Krop's playoff position among the district's top four teams.

(Though New Times hasn't been able to speak to Delancy, the teen took to Facebook after the initial benching to make his feelings clear: "Big game tonight vs. Carol City," he wrote. "Mad as fuck I can't play now that's some bullshit." He also lamented simply on another day: "Why me?" Later, he didn't respond to a New Times friend request. Go figure.)

Thanks to Judge Eig's ruling Wednesday, Krop High will be able to participate in the playoffs pending a hardship appeal with the FHSAA. The same board members who initially disqualified the school will hear the appeal. It's highly unlikely they will reverse their own decision. "It's just a shame for North Miami," says executive director Dearing, referring to the district's fifth-ranked team, pushed from the playoffs by Krop High's inclusion.

On Thursday night, Coach Shakey Rodriguez was back on the sidelines, wearing a slate short sleeve button-down and his sunglasses on his head. Delancy―never the team's top player―scored 9 points. Puerto Rican Angel Rodriguez dropped in 32, and as expected, the Lightning defeated Carol City, by a score of 56 to 53. Krop eliminated Hialeah-Miami Lakes this weekend and remains the favorite to win a state championship. "It was very bitter for our young men," says Paul Moore, a longtime coach at Carol City and the de facto voice of the school. "It makes no sense. It's going to be another stripped championship."

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17 comments
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LIGHTNING FAN 11
LIGHTNING FAN 11

I think that this whole thing is unfair. Krop is not liked by other schools simply because they are outstanding in sports and academics. The fact that another school had to come up with all this is a disgrace to that school. If all this is true, then the FHSAA should go to some of these other highschools in Miami-Dade and Broward county because I'm sure they have plenty athletes on all of the sports teams that play without proper papers and live outside of the county. It shows how great of a basketball team Krop has if another school has to go this far to gain their way into the championship. Its Pathetic really. The other schools can laugh and smile to know that they brought Krops season to an end but Krop has good sportsman ship and the students parents and staff of DR MICHAEL M KROP SENIOR HIGH will always be proud to be a lightning dissipate what anybody says. -PROUD TO BE A LIGHTNING

t33179
t33179

Thank you for having the guts to stand up to the scum running our school sports. Obviously no one dares to do so. People he is 19 not no kid anymore. He's been adult enough to hide the truth now it's time to face the consequences. I only feel bad for him because the other adults in charge didn't follow through the correct rules and he will be the one to pay the price. That Krop didn't know about international players not being able to play, haha, that's why their statistician, Coach Gina Florio's school sat down Fab Melo from Brazil a whole year just to follow FHSAA rules. WHO do you guys think you're kidding playing the dumb card. ALL of you should feel sorry for the team that was booted to allow this team to play. Kids who are from their own district, going to their own local schools, WHO WANT TO PLAY. By the way Angel say hello to your mom for me in Puerto Rico as she certainly does not live here with you.

hurricanefan09
hurricanefan09

I'm sure the other schools in the district have their fair share of secrets. They are clearly jealous of Krop's academic and athletic success. Enjoy being ignorant!

t33179
t33179

Hahahaha, thank you for making my day. Let's get this straight the other schools are jealous of not one but TWO principals involved in misappropriation of funds ion other words STEALING from DISABLED children. One whose wife went to jail. of another teacher fired in the school for the same thing. The athletic director pushed out for having the cahoots that these men DO NOT have to tell the truth. Links to people with criminal charges. And not to leave out their disgraceful basketball coach. Oh YES the only thing separating us from you is coming out in America's most wanted!!

KennDoe
KennDoe

If you're gonna get things STRAIGHT, at least get the FACTS right! All the allegations are spelt out in the Herald in their article, which frankly creates more questions than it answers. Search the site for Matthew Welker since comments with links aren't allowed and it will be the first result.

Maybe you should give it another read over so you can better articulate your poor excuse of a rebuttal. As for "the athletic director pushed out for having the cahoots to tell the truth", nothing is mentioned. Must be more wild speculation.

KennDoe
KennDoe

If you're gonna get things STRAIGHT, at least get the FACTS right! All the allegations are spelt out in the Herald in their article, which frankly creates more questions than it answers. Read it here: http://www.miamiherald.com/201...

Maybe you should give it another read over so you can better articulate your poor excuse of a rebuttal. As for "the athletic director pushed out for having the cahoots to tell the truth", nothing is mentioned. Must be more wild speculation.

KennDoe
KennDoe

If you're gonna get things STRAIGHT then at least get the FACTS right. Anyone can read the Herald's story on the ESE funds, which frankly, creates more questions than it answers. http://www.miamiherald.com/201... Maybe you should give it a read so you can better articulate what's really going on instead of that poorly executed rebuttal.

As for the athletic director pushed out for "having the cahoots to tell the truth"? Hmm... don't see that information anywhere. Must be more wild speculation.

SteveKing123
SteveKing123

Gus Garcia-Roberts clearly has no morals. Someone with morals would:

NOT publish the address of a 19 year old kid.NOT follow the kid home or have him followed home.

You sir, are a disgrace to journalism. You are not a journalist. You try to create the news rather than report it. All you do is scandal pieces. If you were a half decent journalist, you would be reporting the news rather than trying to create it.

Why not investigate Sheryl Golden and see why it is that she has disappeared? Why not investigate why Sheryl Golden is leaking legally protected information to the press? Oh, right, because YOU ARE THE ONE SHE IS LEAKING IT TO! You are both scumbags and deserve each other. I hope you both lose your jobs.

AG
AG

It's not like those addresses lead to anywhere...THEY'RE BOTH FAKE!!!

golightning
golightning

Miami New Times is a pathetic excuse for a news publication and shouldn't be friend requesting high school athletes to stalk them to put together contrived stories based on hear-say and jealousy. He is a child! Have a heart. Shakey Rodriguez has touched more lives and has done ten times more to help the Miami community than the author of this article probably ever will. You should be ashamed of yourself, Mr. Garcia-Roberts. Last time I checked, journalism's sole purpose was not to berate innocent high school students who are just trying to stay off the streets and make something of their lives. This needs to stop now before people's families are torn apart by libel.

t33179
t33179

When I last checked 19 was not considered a child unless he is faking his real age too. Shaky Rodriguez doesn't give a hoot about any of the kids just the money that goes into his wallet. These kids are taking the space that belongs to OUR kids from OUR neighborhood. Read ICE's rules on student visas. These CHILDREN should not be taking the money invested in our schools for our kids. They are supposed to sign affidavits of being able to provide for themselves and reimbursing any costs related to their schooling. SO MR WRIGHT start paying what our tax dollars have been spent on because of your disgusting scheming. Don't forget to call all your friends to help foot the bill, especially the ones commenting on here. If our schools are overpopulated it is exactly because of these situations.

KennDoe
KennDoe

Bitter much? If the space on the team BELONGS to "OUR kids from OUR neighborhood" then let them try out and meet the eligibility requirements to do so. The student in question enrolled properly into Krop and met the requirements to play basketball. What's all this screaming about tax dollars and overpopulation about? Sounds like you need to secede from the Union again. Schools like Krop which are in afluent districts (aventura) aren't the ones getting the majority of tax dollars anyway, it goes to Inner-City schools! If Krop has an overpopulation problem, it's due to all the students using a voucher to come to an A school instead of an F (Norland, etc.) not because one student who's native country isn't the Grand Ol' U.S. of A. So before you get your rebel flag knickers in a twist, look at the bigger problems facing these kids. At least this one is participating in sports instead of becoming another statistic.

Bigdaddyboss22
Bigdaddyboss22

Your absolutely right,I agree,then again this Jack A of a so called Journal and his followers keep it up everyday with negativity about this coach and these children,I know for a fact that everything he writes is hear-say, if he puts the puzzle together he will find another story to write about,facts dont lie...people do. (Mr. Garcia-Roberts) stop taking it personal..mostly everybody that agrees with your blog is either you under a code name or your friends to get publicity for your litttle fake stories

AG
AG

Fake stories? How? The kid had two fake addresses listed in his MDCPS profile. In his emergency contact, he had Wright listed. How are these fake if they're facts?

I'll hang up and listen to your reply.

Bigdaddyballer
Bigdaddyballer

You should investigate Angel Rodriguez, there is speculation that he is really older than he says he is. Some people back in Puerto Rico say he is really 20 years old. You guys are good.You can expose the truth on him too.Great work

Bigdaddyboss22
Bigdaddyboss22

@ Gus Garcia- Roberts,and So called Bigdaddyballer,you guys are such a moron,,look at how you guys are thinking,this is something personal against Krop and there coach,your wasting to much time and energy fishing for something thats not there,yes 90% of what your writing isnt true,and a smart person can see right through your bs...first of all,Even if Baller did live with Bernard when he first relocated here thats a problem when he was at Choice,Bernard wasnt on Shakeys staff in years,therefore just because Ballers at Krop now what that has to do with Shakey..come on you guys stop fishing trying to make something out of nothing...Yes its true they know each other,if he was recruited to play for Krop,why he didnt come to Krop when he first relocated here? it took him 3yrs huh

calebh
calebh

Such strange punctuation. So many unnecessary ellipses. Bigdaddyboss22 is either the Tom Wolfe of South Florida blog commenters, or he's actually Tom Wolfe (assuming Tom Wolfe has recently suffered a massive stroke).

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