SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Maurice Washington doesn’t know when — or even if — he will ever suit up for the Oak Grove Eagles varsity football team.
The star running back, who scored 29 touchdowns and gained 1,800 yards last year as a high school sophomore, was denied eligibility for his entire junior year because of a contentious parting with a private school.
Washington, who lives in South San Jose, was recruited out of 8th Grade by the head coach at The King’s Academy in Sunnyvale, which also offered Washington free rides and financial aid to attend.
Washington excelled on the field but he was unhappy socially and academically.
“I wasn’t thriving. I wasn’t happy to go to school,” Washington said.
After an assistant coach he bonded with was fired, Washington’s mother, Donna Chambers, e-mailed his head coach, stating the family was considering pulling Maurice out of the academy because of the assistant’s firing.
In February, Maurice transferred to Oak Grove, his local public high school but there was soon trouble.
Washington’s mother’s private e-mail to the coach was forwarded to the Central Coast section of the California Interscholastic Federation. In fact it was “exhibit A” of a protest by King’s Academy.
Rules state that students can’t transfer to other schools for athletic purposes. Last month, Maurice Washington lost an appeal largely because of that e-mail.
“For them to do this — knowing it would jeopardize his entire career — it makes me question their character,” Chambers said.
KPIX reached out to the King’s Academy, its coaching staff and administration but got back only “no comment.”
Others in the community are talking, however.
“He (Maurice) made a decision because he was uncomfortable, now he’s at a school where he’s comfortabel, his grades are better — let the kid play,” said Shannon Roberts, with HitSquad Youth Football.
The NAACP is looking into the case.