Key events leading up to ineligible ruling
Fri. March 08, 2013 at 9:17 a.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
Here are key events that led to Vandebilt Catholic's girls basketball team being removed from the playoffs due to the use of an ineligible player.
May 3: The parents of Jewel Triggs — Garland and Charity Triggs — separated, with Garland staying in Thibodaux and Charity moving and setting up residence in Houma. Jewel Triggs attended St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary as a seventh-grader.
August: Jewel is living with mother at Houma address and enrolls at Vandebilt Catholic as an eighth-grader.
Sept. 24: According to the Triggs family's lawsuit, Vandebilt Catholic self-reports Jewel's possible eligibility violation to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association. Commissioner Kenny Henderson speaks with Vandebilt's administration about acquiring a signed court order to determine who has custody of Jewel and where she lives to establish her eligibility status.
Nov. 5: Garland and Charity Triggs filed for divorce, along with a consent joint-custody agreement, in Terrebonne Parish court. The court approved the joint-custody agreement, naming Charity as the primary custodial parent of Jewel living at their Houma address. In its lawsuit, the family says LHSAA rules state Jewel would be eligible to play sports 45 days after the joint-custody agreement is signed. Once eligible, the Triggs family's attorney claims, an LHSAA rule bars the group from reconsidering the matter if a year passes and no complaints are received. The association disputes that claim and says it can reconsider eligibility anytime it deems appropriate.
Nov. 11: Vandebilt asks the LHSAA to investigate the eligibility of Jewel Triggs under the association's Bona Fide Change of Residence rules. Luke contends Vandy made a mistake by asking for an investigation under those rules, which deal with whole-family residency. Instead, he says, the school should have sought an investigation under LHSAA rules dealing with separated or divorced parents and their children. Had it done so, the attorney claims, Jewel would have been declared eligible because she was living in Houma with her mother.
Dec. 7: After an LHSAA investigator visits the home of Charity and Jewel Triggs in Houma, the association recognizes the athlete as eligible under the Bona Fide rules.
Jan. 31: After learning Jewel had moved back to Thibodaux in December 2012, Vandebilt asks the LHSAA to investigate whether there has been a violation of the association's Bona Fide Change of Residence rules.
Feb. 8: According to the family's suit, Vandebilt principal James Reiss learned that the Separation and Divorce rule was applicable and asked if the ruling on the Bona Fide rules should be rescinded. He asks the LHSAA to make a new ruling based on the Separation of Divorce rules.
Feb. 8: As a member of the Vandebilt girls basketball team, Jewel, now a sophomore, sits out of the Lady Terriers' regular season finale game against District 8-4A opponent Ellender as eligibility issues arise.
Feb. 10: Reiss advises the LHSAA its one-year statute of limitations has expired and suggests Jewel may still be eligible to play as a result.
Feb. 19-25: While the LHSAA is continuing its investigation, the Lady Terriers pick up playoff wins over West Ouachita, Huntington and Salmen to advance to state semifinals. Jewel played in all three playoff games.
Feb. 26: With the LHSAA investigation ongoing, Henderson said officials from Salmen put the LHSAA in contact with a former Vandebilt player who testified that Jewel was living in Thibodaux rather than Houma, where the family initially documented her residence to be.
Feb. 27: With the evidence from the former player, Henderson declares Jewel ineligible due to a violation of the Bona Fide transfer rules policy. The decision indicates the LHSAA chose not to launch a new investigation from scratch under the divorce rules, which could have taken longer. The action forces Vandebilt to forfeit its appearance in the Class 4A state semifinal game against St. Michael High of Baton Rouge. Vandebilt officials decide not to request an appeal hearing with the LHSAA's Executive Committee.
Feb. 28: St. Michael appeals the LHSAA's decision to put Salmen back into the playoffs, citing a rule written in the association's handbook stating that a team must be assigned to the playoffs at least 48 hours before a game was not followed. The LHSAA's Executive Committee denied St. Michael's appeal request in the morning.
Feb. 28: Garland and Charity Triggs, along with their lawyer, seek a temporary restraining order against the LHSAA. District Judge George Larke of Houma grants the request in the afternoon, which blocks the LHSAA's ruling and places Vandebilt back into the Class 4A semifinals.
March 1: LHSAA lawyer Brad Lewis appears in Houma District Court to appeal Larke's restraining order, but the measure is blocked around noon.
March 1: The LHSAA asked the First Circuit Court of Appeals judge in Baton Rouge to review the Houma judge's restraining order around 2 p.m.
March 1: Vandebilt's girls basketball team travels to Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and takes the court at 3:55 p.m. for warm-ups before its game against St. Michael. Three minutes later, the team asked to leave the floor. The LHSAA had received news that an appeals judge in Baton Rouge overruled the Houma court's restraining order. The ruling says the LHSAA — not the courts — has jurisdiction to interpret its own laws. LHSAA officials in Hammond inform Vandebilt coach Kathy Luke that her team is out of the playoffs. Salmen replaces Vandebilt in the game and plays St. Michael at 5:06 p.m. March 1, a game that the Slidell-based school would win to advance to the Class 4A state finals.