Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weasel of the Week: Will Francis

In college sports, a student-athlete is declared ineligible either if his grades aren't up to par, or, as we all know, he accepts benefits from an overzealous booster going out of his way to make the lad "feel right at home".

In high schools, more often than not, poor grades will determine eligibility. However, in the case of this week's Weasel, it's a residency issue, and the devastating effect it has on a pristine program, suddenly tainted by a mild (by comparison) scandal.

A year ago, Will Francis was playing for Catholic Central High School in Troy. The Crusaders weren't as good as they are now, occupying the lower tier of the Big 10 standings in NY's Section II. They've improved without Francis, who transferred in the offseason. It's where he transferred to, in contrast to where he actually lives, that is at issue. Francis & his family live in Loudonville. While Catholic Central has an open enrollment, allowing students from throughout the Capital Region to enroll (and Troy, in Rensselaer County, borders both Albany & Saratoga counties). Logically, Francis, upon leaving Catholic Central, would've gone to either Shaker or Colonie High, in relation to his hometown of Loudonville.

However, for some as yet undetermined reason, Francis opted to enroll at Watervliet High. Everything seemed to be okay when the season started last month, but during the holiday break, school officials discovered that they'd been deceived. Francis provided them with a Watervliet address when he filled out papers to enroll at the school, but, as revealed in The Record today, the apartment he claimed to occupy was vacant, and has been all along! As a result, Watervliet officials reported their findings to the appropriate parties, including Section II officials, who did the only thing they could, and vacate all five wins the Cannoneers basketball team had accumulated prior to play on Friday. In a flash, Watervliet's record went from 5-2 to 0-7, though it's now 1-7 after winning on Friday, their first game without Francis, who, according to The Record, has been asked to leave the Watervliet district. In effect, Francis has been expelled for his deception.

The only thing left is to determine a motive. With two other elite schools within shouting distance of home, why did Francis choose Watervliet? Did he or his parents realize that this wasn't an open enrollment school, as opposed to Catholic Central? Right now, we don't know, though by this time tomorrow, we might have some answers. As Yogi Bear once said, "ignorance of the law is no excuse". That means, then, that Will Francis doesn't get a Dunce Cap, though his next school might give him one, but he does get the Weasel ears.

For Watervliet's boys basketball team, they now have to run the table just to have a respectable record headed into sectional play, which begins next month. An oversight that slipped through the cracks over the summer, only to bubble up to the surface just two weeks ago, won't harm them in the long term, but it will make the school pay closer attention to transfers in the future.


magicdog said...

Francis wouldn't have done it if it were not for some prodding and encouragement from an outside benefactor.

Someone likely told him to do this so he'd go to a good HS and have an option to play college ball and eventually make it to the NBA. The phrase, "Everybody does it!" was probably part of the conversation.

hobbyfan said...

Here's the thing. Colonie, Shaker, & Watervliet have all placed star players at Division 1 colleges, so there isn't much difference there. By going to Watervliet, which is a Class B school in Section II here, Francis wasn't exactly making a smart career move.

As of this morning, there hadn't been any follow-up in the local papers, though I am going to check into it.