Sports, in all its forms, has long been notoriously riddled with accusations of cheating. Amateur high school sports is no different, as it is traditionally the gateway for many talented young people to obtain valuable college and university scholarships.
In the early 1970s, sports scholarships, providing for free education, and related perks for the best Bahamian players, were apparently easier to get, if you played for the right American high school. The pressure for these high schools to win games, in order to get noticed by college scouts, or professional teams was tremendous.
In October 1975, four Bahamian basketball players, became the centre of an investigation into cheating and fraud in the coveted world of amateur high school sports at Miami Jackson High in Miami, Florida.
Cecil Rose, Micheal Thompson, Charles Thompson and Osborne Lockhart were said to be ineligible to play for Miami Jackson High from 1971 to 1974.
Miami Jackson High in 1972, had some 200 Bahamian kids enrolled at the high school.
Between 1971 to 1974, Miami Jackson High School in Florida won 81 games over three seasons. In the playoff season of 1973-1974, Jackson high school won the prestigious Class AAAA state basketball championship. All of the highly impressive wins were said to be due to four new Bahamians Cecil Rose, Micheal Thompson, Charles Thompson and Osborne Lockhart who were enrolled at the same time at the school. The young men were enrolled as seniors.
One of them, a Bahamian named Cecil Rose, some contended looked suspiciously older than the other teenage boys.
In 1975, after all four young men had won sports scholarships to American universities, Miami officials became suspicious. Investigating reporters uncovered startling details on the four basketball players from Nassau.
After an extensive investigation which spanned both Miami, and the Bahamas, and included interviews with Bahamas school authorities, police and Bahamian government officials, it was revealed that none of the four Bahamian players were eligible to play.
In fact, one player, was a former 20 year old policeman who managed to pass himself off as a high school senior. When Rose stated his age at 17 years old, he was actually 19 years old.
(The Miami News, Thursday 30th October 1975)
PROOF, LIES, PASSPORT FRAUD AND REVELATIONS THAT ONE WAS A FORMER POLICEMAN
Rules of the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) at the time stated that cheating or fraud had to have been revealed in the year that it occurred. By 1975, when suspicions were finally confirmed, it was too late to force Miami Jackson High to forfeit its wins the school achieved during 1971 to 1974. Jackson, had a 33 wins and 0 losses record in its its state championship season.
Where the four Bahamians fell foul of the rules of the FHSAA was primarily in eligibility. Rules said that a student is limited to four consecutive years of eligibility from the time he entered 9th grade, whether in America or the Bahamas.
Cecil Rose it was said to be overage. He was actually 20 years old as a Miami Jackson High senior.
Rose had already graduated from high school in Nassau. Rose has graduated from Prince William even before arriving in Miami. Rose had not fulfilled state residency requirements either. And worse, Rose had produced a passport with a fake date of birth.
Officials obtained his birth certificate which stated that he had lied. Rose had misstated his birth date by two years.
When reporters came to Nassau they interviewed Rose’s former teacher who was also President of the Bahamas Amateur Basketball Association, Vince Ferguson. Ferguson confirmed that he knew Rose had graduated high school in Nassau.
Also interviewed was Police Sgt. Akel Clarke who confirmed that Rose played for the police basketball team between 1971 to 1972 when he worked as a constable. Rose enrolled at Miami Jackson High in September 1972 and went into the 11th grade. He lied saying his age was 17 years old at the time when he was actually already 19 years old.
(The Tampa Tribune, Thursday 6th November 1975)
For Charles Thompson, it was stated he was ineligible on two counts. First, Thompson had also, like Cecil Rose, already graduated high school in the Bahamas. Thompson had graduated from Prince William High School in Nassau. Second, he had not fulfilled state residency requirements.
(The Miami News, Thursday 30th October 1975)
For Michael Thompson and Osborne Lockhart, both had completed 11th grade at Queen’s College and A. F. Adderley high schools respectively. This meant that they had only one year of eligible play each. This meant that they were ineligible to play in their senior seasons at Miami Jackson High.
Lockhart was 6 foot – 1 in September 1971 was assigned to 10th grade at Miami Jackson High.
Rose (6 foot 3 Guard) Charles Thompson (6 foot 7 centre), and Michael Thompson (6 foot 8 forward) were all put in the 11th grade at Miami Jackson High, in September 1972.
When the Bahamas government was asked about the false passport information contained in Rose’s passport, Ministry of External Affairs refused comment.
The Miami News, Thursday 30th October 1975)
By the time the investigation results were revealed, Charles Thompson and Cecil Rose were sophomores on basketball scholarships in Houston, Texas. Lockhart and Micheal Thompson were sophomores in Minnesota.