Maxwell Strachan of the Huffington Post is reporting that the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team has been stripped of its U.S Championship and all of the team’s 2014 wins have been vacated.
This team was stripped of the title after a Little League investigation found that the team “knowingly violated league rules” that prohibited the use of players who live outside of the geographic area that the team represents.
The Little League has determined that the team formed an inaccurate map of its boundaries and collaborated with other teams in an effort to obtain additional territory that was not truly within the team’s borders.
The team’s manager, Darold Butler, has since been suspended from taking part in illegal Little League activity, and District 4 administrator Michael Kelly has also been removed from his position.
As a result of the scandal, the U.S championship has been awarded to the Mountain Ridge Little League team of Las Vegas. The Little League International president and CEO Stephen D. Keener told ESPN:
“Quite honestly, we had to do this. We had no choice. We had to maintain the integrity of the Little League program… As painful as this is, it’s a necessary outcome from what we finally have been able to confirm.
The real troubling part of this is that we feel horribly for the kids who are involved with this. Certainly, no one should cast any blame, any aspersions on the children who participated on this team. To the best of our knowledge, they had no knowledge that they were doing anything wrong. They were just kids out playing baseball, which is the way it should be. They were celebrated for that by many, many organizations, many people. What we’re most concerned about today is that it’s going to be hard on these kids. And that’s the part that breaks your heart.”
President Barack Obama, who honored the team at a White House ceremony, also spoke out; saying that he continues to be proud of the team and that he only places blame on “dirty dealing adults.”
The Little League fosters policies that are designed to “preserve” traditional community-based leagues in which classmates play with classmates and adds that it has taken this type of action against a team only three times in its 75 year history.
However, the team’s lawyers assert that they are still champions until all of the facts are gathered in the case. The team’s lawyers say that the team has not been contacted by Little League International and that players, parents, coaches and organizers all learned of this while watching television.
Read more at the HuffingtonPost.