At three this afternoon at a Downtown courthouse, attorneys representing Dr. Michael Krop High will argue that the disqualification of one of the school's basketball players over an immigration issue is illegal. Whether Florida's number-one ranked high school team qualifies for the playoffs hangs in the balance.
But Riptide has discovered that Bryan Delancy's immigration status may be just one of his eligibility conflicts.
According to a letter filed in court by the high school, Delancy's guardian is Bernard Wright. The letter, sent from the school to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), claims that Wright "has no relationship with Dr. Krop; he is not a coach, volunteer, of employee of the school."
That may all be technically true. But Wright does have a relationship stretching back two decades with Marcos "Shakey" Rodriguez, Krop's basketball coach-- and has been pegged as a notorious recruiter.
In the early '90s, Wright was the assistant coach under Rodriguez for the nearly unbeatable Miami High team. Rodriguez was dogged by rumors of recruiting-- against the rules in high school ball-- and helping his players skirt school district requirements.
In 1995, Rodriguez took the coaching job at Florida International University. Wright stayed at Miami High as an assistant to coach Frank Martin. Three years later, the Miami High team, which included current Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, had that entire championship season wiped out by the FHSAA for recruitment violations after New Times discovered that Haslem and star teammate Steve Blake had listed fake addresses to be within the school's district.
Martin was fired. He recently took the reins of Kansas State's juggernaut basketball program. Bernard Wright left as well, ending up at FIU, under his old colleague Shakey Rodriguez.
So what was Wright's real job at Miami High? In a follow-up story in 2000, two sources told New Times that he had been the high school's recuiter:
"He always would come up to me and tell me, 'Got a chance of getting another kid,'" says one 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. I heard people say he would start at five in the morning, and he'd be picking up everyone on the damn team, driving them around." Another source contacted by New Times, who demanded anonymity, confirmed that Wright would, in fact, make recruiting trips to meet promising basketball players within other schools' boundaries.
Rodriguez resigned from FIU in the aftermath of that story. Bernard Wright-- who was also exposed in the article as having a criminal record and co-owning a troubled ghetto liquor store-- was released soon after.
Wright has been employed most recently as the basketball coach of Miami's now-defunct Choice Learning Academy-- where he also acted as a legal guardian for at least two international students. In July 2010, the Birmingham News reported that African-born high schoolers Bernard Morena and Willy Kouassi lived with Wright the year before. The News tried to interview Wright, but he was then with the National Guard in Afghanistan, and he refused the request.
FHSAA rules state that student athletes can't live with any school employee, athletic staff member or representative of the school's athletic interests.
It would seem that Wright would fall under the latter category given his reputation as a recruiter and his relationship with Shakey Rodriguez. But FHSAA spokesperson Seth Polansky had no comment on Delancy rooming with Wright when reached by Riptide, saying that the association's "sole focus" is the immigration issue.
It's unclear if Wright even lives in the school zone of Krop High, which is located in north Miami-Dade County in the Ives Estates area. Public records show that Wright has lived for seven years in Hialeah, at an address eleven miles from the school-- in the American Senior High zone.
Riptide left a note in the door of Wright's listed apartment, but has yet to hear from either him or Delancy, who we also tried to reach on Facebook.
Shakey Rodriguez didn't pick up when we called his cell phone. Moments after the call 21-year-old Krop High alumnus and de facto spokesperson Evan Ross called to say Rodriguez was under orders from the school's principal not to talk to the press.
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Ross didn't appreciate the inference that Rodriguez might be up to his old rule-trouncing tricks-- or that he had any tricks to begin with. "I can tell you from personal knowledge that because of the reputation that Shakey unfortunately has, parents from other districts often come up to him and ask him about enrolling their kid at Krop," says Ross. "He always says: 'Sorry, but if you don't live in the district, there's nothing I can do.'"
We've embedded the school's complaint against the FHSAA, as well as the revealing letter, below.