WARREN - The eligibility status of a Warren John F. Kennedy High School transfer student athlete was under review Friday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Isaac Carrino's motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the Ohio High School Athletic Association was denied by Judge John M. Stuard, citing clear and unambiguous bylaws as the reason for the verdict.
The 16-year-old sophomore transferred from Bristol High School to JFK prior to the 2012-13 school year and, under OHSAA bylaws, a student athlete is ineligible for one year from the date of enrollment in the new school. Carrino had hoped an exception would allow him to play basketball for the Warren school this season.
"We gave our best position available," Carrino's attorney Tom Wilson said.
Wilson's case centered around the Carrino family's move to Bristol, which occurred just prior to the student's freshman year in high school. During that freshman season, he was on the Bristol High School basketball team. Carrino attended a public middle school in North Carolina from sixth to eighth grade before an illness with his grandmother dictated a move to Bristol.
In the complaint filed by Carrino and his parents, James and Debra, the family notes the advanced placement and honors courses offered at JFK as the primary reason for the switch. They argue this would provide Carrino with greater academic opportunities than what is available at Bristol High School.
OHSAA bylaws state if a student had been enrolled in a "non-public" school from sixth to eighth grade and a student began the ninth grade in a public school, a student can transfer to the same non-public school prior to the start of his 10th-grade year without losing athletic eligibility status for that season.
Wilson argued since Carrino attended a school outside of Ohio and in a district where no private or "non-public" school was available, he should be granted the eligibility waiver.
"The bylaws don't seem to specifically identify that kind of situation, and we don't think there is enough to warrant exclusion in the participation in sports," Wilson said.
Legal counsel for OHSAA, Steve Craig, said the bylaws are clear.
"The member school clearly understood the rules, and that is why he was initially declared ineligible by JFK and why the appeal to the OHSAA was declined," Craig said, pointing to earlier rulings as proof of an unambiguous bylaw. "The OHSAA will try like crazy to get the player eligible to play the game. That said, the OHSAA office was created by the member schools to say these are the rules and here is our verdict. It is sort of like an official in basketball. At the end of the day, the OHSAA are the ones in the striped shirts with the whistle.
"That's their job, and they've spoken in this case."
Stuard agreed in his ruling stating, "... there is simply no exception among (the bylaw) that applies to this situation."
Carrino's brother Jacob continues to attend school at Bristol High School as a senior. The boys' father, James, is a teacher and coach with the Bristol Local School District.