Kiski Coach Sues, Alleging Unfair Recruiting

Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 2, 2009

A basketball coach recently hired to improve the program at the private Kiski School claimed in a federal lawsuit yesterday that he was forced to quit because the administration did not want him to recruit black players.

But Kiski’s headmaster claims that problems with coach Anthony Cheatham had nothing to do with race, and instead had to do with him not following WPIAL rules in how he recruited players.

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“There is absolutely no truth to any allegations of discrimination at the school,” Brueningsen [headmaster Christopher Brueningsen] said. “Like most independent schools, we’re always looking for ways to increase diversity.”

The school has 205 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12, along with a handful in a post-graduate program. The students come from 15 countries, and approximately one-third of the school’s population are boys of color.

But Cheatham alleges in his lawsuit that when he started recruiting for the school in April, he was told that African-American players were not “mission appropriate.”

“[As] information about Kiski’s recruiting effort, and the races of many of those recruits became public, Kiski’s administration became uneasy,” the lawsuit said. “During a number of conversations, Cheatham was told by Kiski administrators that the school could not tolerate a basketball team with five African-American starters.”

The lawsuit alleges that white recruits who had lower grades and fewer financial resources were accepted over a black prospect with more money and better academic ratings.

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Whether a student is “mission appropriate,” he continued, has to do with being able to meet the school’s rigorous academic standards and has nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

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