Indiana Faithfull, a senior point guard for the Cheverus of Portland boys basketball team, has rejoined the Stags’ lineup after a court ruling in his favor.
Faithfull, who missed his team’s final five regular-season games after it was determined by the Maine Principals’ Association that he had used up his eligibility, scored 10 points Friday as top-ranked Cheverus defeated No. 8 Scarborough 49-34 in a Western Maine Class A quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.
Faithfull was allowed to play in the aftermath of a temporary restraining order issued by Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Joyce A. Wheeler.
MPA rules establish a limit of eight consecutive semesters for student-athlete eligibility, and Faithfull was found to have used up his eight semesters in late January.
That’s because Faithfull began his first year of high school in January 2006 in his native Australia — summer in that southern hemisphere nation.
So by the time Faithfull transferred in Cheverus in the fall of 2007 to begin his sophomore year at Cheverus, three semesters had elapsed since he entered high school, leaving him five more semesters of athletic eligibility under the MPA’s eight-semester rule.
That time frame ended Jan. 25, 2010, the end of the eighth semester since Faithfull first became a high school student.
Faithfull’s family sought an injunction against the MPA based on the claim that the organization discriminated against Faithfull based on his national origin.
On Friday afternoon, Wheeler issued a four-page ruling approving the temporary restraining order and restoring Faithfull to the Cheverus basketball team.
She found Faithfull had shown “a strong likelihood of success on his argument that the “eight consecutive semesters” eligibility rule as interpreted by the MPA has a disparate and discriminatory impact on him on the basis of his national origin.”
Wheeler noted that Faithfull sat out a semester of school between the end of his freshman year in Australia in December 2006 and the start of his sophomore year at Cheverus in the fall of 2007.
“The MPA’s interpretation of its eligibility rule resulted in counting as one of the eight semesters, the gap semester that [Faithfull] waited to start tenth grade here in Maine,” she wrote.
Wheeler ordered the MPA to refrain “from enforcing an interpretation of the eight consecutive semesters of eligibility rule that would exclude Faithfull from competition this semester.”
Wheeler wrote: “The purpose of this rule, which is written for students who follow the traditional America academic calendar, is to prevent competitive unfairness resulting from players being held back or red-shirted during their high school careers, in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. The court finds that this is not the case here since it is not likely that a foreign student living in the southern hemisphere will progress through secondary school without a gap due [to] the discontinuity between the school calendars.”
MPA executive director Dick Durost, who was at the Cheverus-Scarborough game, told the Portland Press Herald that his organization would appeal the court’s ruling. Cheverus is scheduled to play Windham in Wednesday’s semifinals.
Faithfull, a second-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine selection after his junior season at Cheverus, helped the Stags win the Class A state title as a sophomore.
Sitting out another tourney
There was a familiar face greeting Eastern Maine basketball fans Saturday morning in the lobby of the Bangor Auditorium, although he wasn’t filling his usual role during the tournament.
Veteran official Mike Corneil is serving on the Maine Principals’ Association tournament crew, rather than in his preferred role.
Corneil, a math teacher at Bangor High School, has been unable to work as a basketball official for 14 months after sustaining an injury to his left knee during an Orono High alumni basketball game on Dec. 26, 2008.
“I was in a brace for 12 weeks,” said Corneil, who ruptured his patella tendon. “It was horrible.”
And while Corneil admitted he misses the atmosphere of working tournament games, there have been some unexpected benefits to being on the shelf.
He has worked with video replays at University of Maine men’s hockey games and also has had a chance to watch his son Christian, play on Bangor’s JV basketball team.
“I’ve actually enjoyed it,” he said. “A little free time’s kind of nice.”