Thursday, November 3, 2022

High school football recruitment questioned

Belleville High School head football coach Jermain Crowell is currently under investigation for a possible undue influence violation by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. 

Crowell has denied any wrongdoing which is alleged to have occurred with attempts to recruit and enroll senior wide receiver/defensive back Jameel Croft, Jr. who plays for Detroit King High School. In an interview, Croft reportedly said that the Belleville coach made overtures to him and was picking him up for seven on seven practices before he enrolled at King. The star player said that Belleville was the first high school to reach out to him.

That type of early contact with a player is a violation of the undue influence rule of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Providing transportation to practices is considered an even more serious violation, according to association rules. 

Mark Uyl, executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, told reporters the association was waiting for a response from Crowell and Belleville. He confirmed that a review of the conduct in the matter of Croft's enrollment was ongoing.

Belleville athletic director Joe Brodie is also reportedly investigating any possible irregularities. He told reporters that he had asked Crowell about the report and that the coach specifically denied the allegation. 

“I never picked him up,” Crowell reportedly told a reporter. He also indicated that the manner in which Croft was questioned about the situation may have been less than objective.

Crowell has been coaching at Belleville for eight seasons and was formerly the defensive coordinator at Detroit Cass Tech. Prior to his hiring at Belleville, the football program was struggling while under his coaching, the current district champions are enjoying a 20-game winning streak.  The team will be defending their championship in the state playoffs which begin this week.

Crowell said the timing of the allegations were a clear distraction during the upcoming playoffs. Brodie said he hoped to present his response to the state association as soon as his own inquiries were complete.

He said he was hoping for a quick conclusion to the review and that Belleville would comply with whatever recommendations the association might make in the situation.

“We'll do whatever they say,” Brodie told reporters.