Written by SportsDayDFW.com
8-5A committee seeks UIL rule clarification before final ruling on Marcus Smart's eligibility
The District 8-5A executive committee has asked the University Interscholastic League for a clarification of a rule before it makes a final decision on Flower Mound Marcus basketball player Marcus Smart’s eligibility, Lewisville communications director Karen Permetti said.
Smart, a junior averaging 13.9 points per game, is eligible to play in Saturday’s area-round playoff game against Duncanville, Permetti said.
At a regularly scheduled meeting for the District 8-5A body on Thursday, there was a closed session hearing for discussing Smart’s eligibility. It was attended by district executive committee chair Steve Williams, the eight voting delegates of District 8-5A, Smart’s mother, Camellia Smart, and team booster Phil Forte.
Williams declined to provide details of the decision or comment on what was discussed. Permetti said she could not say which rule the district committee was seeking clarification on and did not when the UIL would respond.
Last week, The Dallas Morning News reported that Smart, since his transfer from Red Oak to Marcus his freshman year, has lived in a house owned by Forte, who has also helped coach Smart in AAU basketball.
The lease, provided by the Lewisville ISD, called for the Smarts to pay $800 a month. Flower Mound real estate agents interviewed for the story estimated that fair market value for a house its size in that area valued at around $140,000 would be $1,100 to $1,300 a month. A comparative market analysis established that similarly sized properties in the area were rented for an average of 77 cents per square foot, which would put rent for Forte’s house at $1,184 per month.
Forte called the $800 payment reasonable, saying in an e-mail the home was occupied by someone with whom he was comfortable. He said that he never took calls regarding minor repairs and that the payment was enough to cover the interest and principle he paid.
UIL rules prohibit recruiting, defined by the UIL as encouraging “a student in any way to change schools for the purpose of participating in UIL activities at any grade level.” According to Section 5 of the UIL constitution, recruiting could include offering a student or a student’s parents “board or lodging.” According to Section 1203 of the 8-5A executive committee handbook, the offer could come from a “school official or local fan.”
Section 441 of the UIL’s constitution prohibits an athlete from receiving “valuable consideration” for participating in a sport.
“Valuable consideration” is defined as “any tangible or intangible property or service, including anything that is wearable, usable or salable.”
Permetti, the communications director, had said that the school reported the living arrangement to the district executive committee when it discovered the situation last fall.
When previously asked about his relationship with Smart, Forte said he knew him from long ago and wanted him to be in a better environment and “on the right path.” Smart played AAU basketball with Forte’s son as far back as 2003.
Permetti said Forte and his family leased the house because they wanted to help the Smarts, who are friends. The Smarts had experienced two family tragedies, Permetti said. In January 2004, Smart’s brother, Todd Westbrook, 33, died of cancer. Before then, his uncle was permanently injured in a shooting incident when someone attempted to carjack him, Permetti said.
Marcus plays Duncanville at 7 Saturday night at Carrollton R.L. Turner.