This morning, the Director of Athletics for Prince George's County Schools, Earl Hawkins, confirmed that DuVal High School guard Michael Cunningham has been deemed ineligible for this season because he has used up his four years of eligibility.
“He is not playing this year,” Hawkins said. “The school is not playing him this year. They did their homework and he is not playing this year.”
Cunningham, who led the Tigers with 18.1 points per game last season and posted multiple triple-doubles, was recognized as a junior last year when, in fact, he should have been marked a senior.
The guard told both the Washington Post and The Gazette that he attended Archbishop Carroll as a freshman and then switched over to Paul VI as a sophomore before moving once more to DuVal as a junior. Only, according to Panthers coach Glenn Farello, he attended — and played for — Paul VI as a sophomore and a junior.
“He played with us his sophomore and junior years,” Farello said. “He played on JV as a freshman at [Archbishop] Carroll and then on varsity with us for two years.”
Carroll Assistant Athletic Director Rick Houchens confirmed that Cunningham played on the junior varsity team in Cunningham's true freshman year.
“Our regulations say that once you start the ninth grade, you have four seasons in any one sport,” Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Executive Director Ned Sparks said. “It doesn't matter if it's JV or varsity.”
He did say that under the circumstances in which an athlete falls ill or suffers an injury and subsequently does not play sports for that year, the athlete would be able to play for another year given that the athlete's academics are in line and that he or she did not age out (cannot turn 19 before Aug. 1).
But, as has been confirmed by both Paul VI and Carroll, Cunningham played for the three years prior to the 2012-2013 season, which he played for DuVal.
Had he suited up this season, every game in which Cunningham appeared would have resulted in a forfeit.
Cunningham has up to six collegiate offers, according to DuVal coach Lafayette Dublin, including Towson, Robert Morris, Wagner, and Long Island.