NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle High School Principal Reginald Richardson is denying reports that the New Rochelle High School football team fielded an ineligible player during the recently ended football season.
"There were no players on the 2014 NRHS football team who were determined to be ineligible," said Richardson.
Sources with knowledge of the situation have told Talk of the Sound that Head Football Coach Louis DeRienzo and New Rochelle Athletic Director Steve Young recruited players from the Bronx and knowingly fielded at least one ineligible player during the 2014 season, something Richardson denies.
"At no time did Coach DeRienzo, Steve Young, or any other employee of the school district recruit any players to play for our football team," said Richardson.
Prior to the team's game against Ramapo in September, during a nationally televised TV interview with CBS News, Richardson claimed to have "no knowledge" of whether Ray Rice would be at the game. In the interview (photo above), Richardson can be seen wearing a walkie-talkie used by school security. Moments later Ray Rice emerged from the school with a large entourage, flanked by school security officers; Rice had been in Richardson's school during the interview.
Rumors have swirled for months that Young and DeRienzo recruited four players from the Bronx before the season began and may have had some role in the filing of fraudulent paperwork based on false residency information. Two of the students were blocked from enrolling over the summer but two were enrolled, according to sources.
A review of the 2014 New Rochelle High School roster shows two players from the 2013 Mount Saint Michael Academy team played this season for the Huguenots - Rashon McNeil and Keelan Thomas. Thomas played in the New York Youth Tackle League in 2011.
Sources tell Talk of the Sound that Rashon McNeil was removed from the team after he was found to be ineligible because he resides in the Bronx. Attempts to reach McNeil were unsuccessful.
Talk of the Sound was able to confirm that McNeil attended high school in the Bronx last year, his Twitter handle is "bronxrebel7" and in his Twitter profile he identified himself as from the Bronx -- while his profile photo shows McNeil in a New Rochelle t-shirt.
Under the rules of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association a sports contestant must be a "bona fide student of the high school represented".
If a school uses an ineligible student in any interscholastic contest, such contest shall be forfeited to the opposing schools.
The allegations of players from the Bronx attempting to enroll at New Rochelle High School in order to join the football team, comes within the context of a series of issues during Young's tenure. Young was hired as New Rochelle Athletic Director in August 2012.
Longtime New Rochelle Soccer Coach Greg Papadopoulos was fired after the team was required to vacate three wins for fielding an ineligible player. Another soccer player was arrested for assault after breaking the jaw of a White Plains player during a game. The White Plains player has since filed a lawsuit against the District. Young then attempted to replace the Papadopoulos with a teacher at the high school with no experience coaching soccer; that move was overturned by Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff.
Two years ago, Young was the AD when a football hazing incident at Isaac E. Young Middle School came to light. The head football coach, Kenneth Philips, failed to report the allegations of hazing -- including sexual assault -- to authorities as required under New York's mandated report law, a Class A misdemeanor. Young then allowed Philips to coach at New Rochelle High School for a year before allowing Philips to return to coaching at the middle school as an Assistant to his former Assistant.
In September, there was controversy over Ray Rice making his first public appearance after the release of the infamous elevator video. Over the objections of Principal Richardson and the central office administration, Coach Lou DeRienzo set off a media frenzy garnering national attention when he invited Ray Rice, his wife, Janay Rice, and their daughter, to stand on the sidelines during the team's game against Ramapo. DeRienzo had threatened to resign earlier in the week if the District took down Ray Rice's high school jersey from the high school gym. The #5 jersey had been retired in 2012.