The Louisiana High School Athletic Association has ruled Belaire High School must forfeit all five of its wins this season for multiple rules violations.
Officials said Belaire High was found in violation of bylaws related to scholastic requirements, faculty coaches, and registration and submission of students.
As a result, Bengals head football coach Claude Coleman and athletic director Chauncey Moore, who is also the head basketball coach, are suspended from coaching in the LHSAA for a year. Officials said the football program will be on probation for a year and the school faces a total of $2,000 in fines.
The five wins the school must forfeit were against Glen Oaks, Mentorship Academy, White Castle, Independence and Woodlawn. The ruling gives Mentorship Academy, which had not won in 23 contents spanning three years, its first win.
The ruling is based on an investigation into allegations of illegal grade changes for more than a dozen football players. Belaire is accused of using ineligible players and using other members of the team in games when they were not registered with the LHSAA, according to sources.
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the investigation turned up eligibility issues in several areas from residency to age limits to academics. Bonine said Belaire was also missing medical forms and proper registration for athletes who played in the games.
"In this particular case, we had situations where none of that was done at Belaire High School," Bonine said. "Once we received a report, we sent an investigator in to do so, and through that investigation, we received other information that came up in which we thought was important. We reached out and communicated with upper administration at East Baton Rouge so I contacted Superintendent Drake."
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is also investigating the situation. Officials said they do not have a set timeline for when the school system will wrap up its investigation which has expanded from the original issues the LHSAA ruled on to include other information the district has received.
"This is unfortunate news for the student-athletes and the entire Belaire High School community, but it is critical that all of our programs are compliant with LHSAA Rules and Regulations as well as district policy," said Superintendent Warren Drake about the LHSAA's ruling. "We are working closely with LHSAA to ensure that the team is able to move forward and make the most of the remaining season."
"We also had violations of registering coaches. There were many coaches on their staff that had not gone through the appropriate channels through and/or through the High School Coaches Association known as the LHSCA. They weren't registered there either so we had some infractions there," Bonine said.
According to sources, there are also allegations of misappropriation of funds and fraudulent claims involving the school's finances.
School system officials said the four Belaire employees remain on paid administrative leave.
"It is important that this is a thorough investigation as the allegations involve student academic records. The team needs time to properly conduct interviews and gather relevant documentation," Drake said.
The team canceled its official practice Monday and stuck around to hold an informal workout.
The Belaire football team is now 0-7 in the season with three games remaining. The Bengals will be big underdogs in at least the games against Livonia and Plaquemine.
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