Thursday, October 8, 1998
James Kawashima is suingBy Pat Bigold
the HHSAA on behalf of
Iolani's Anderson brothers
A rule denying fifth-year prep athletes from competing in state tournaments is "arbitrary" and penalizes students held back for academic reasons.
That's the argument being advanced by James Kawashima, the local attorney who will file a lawsuit against the Hawaii High School Athletic Association on behalf of twin brothers Cord and Brad Anderson, both all-state basketball players from 1998 state champion Iolani.
Under HHSAA guidelines, the Andersons aren't eligible to compete in state tournaments because they didn't use their four years of eligibility in consecutive years.
Iolani competes in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, which allows its student-athletes to complete their eligibility in four nonconsecutive years.
The twins transferred from Hawaii Preparatory Academy to Iolani at the end of their sophomore year. But they said they had to repeat their sophomore year at Iolani because of more rigorous academic demands at the school.
This year, they are starters on Iolani's boys' varsity volleyball team. They also could contend for state track and field championships next spring, Brad in the discus and Cord in the shot put.
In basketball, they are impact players whose presence -- or absence -- could affect the outcome of the state tournament.
The state's four public school leagues have suggested that the five-year guideline allows private schools to "redshirt" players. They claim this gives the private schools, which traditionally win most of the state championships, an unfair advantage.
Kawashima said his clients were disappointed when, after appealing to the HHSAA in August, they were denied without an explanation.
"The rule that the HHSAA has in place is arbitrary and capricious," Kawashima said.
"The rule applies to everybody, and it makes no difference whether or not your reason (for a fifth year) is a good one. We're asking the association to look at each case on its own merits."
The Andersons, grandsons of former Honolulu city managing director Andy Anderson, said they had been told two years ago that the National Federation of State High School Associations mandated participation in four consecutive years.
They said they recently discovered that the national federation has no such rule.
HHSAA president Anthony Ramos and a spokesman for the national federation confirmed there is no nationwide rule.
But Bruce Howard, speaking for the national federation in Kansas City, Mo., said the federation handbook once recommended four consecutive years, but wasn't binding in regard to individual state associations.
He said the handbook's wording on eligibility is now much looser.
NFSHSA president Robert Kanaby said he knows of no state association that allows nonconsecutive years for participation.
Ramos referred media inquiries about the suit to the law firm of Kobayashi, Sugita and Goda. No attorney from the firm would comment on the upcoming litigation.
Ramos, also president of the ILH, finds himself in the unusual position of being president of athletic associations that abide by different eligibility rules.
Ramos said no such situation has come up at his school.
"We don't repeat kids here," he said. "Our school program is pretty broad. We have classes for kids who need extra help."
Prior to this, the state's most celebrated basketball eligibility case took place in 1987, when Gib Arnold, who transferred from Utah to Punahou, was denied a reprieve from the rule in Circuit Court and Hawaii Supreme Court.
Lawyers argued that the rule limited Arnold's scholarship opportunities -- a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed property rights.
He was the son of Frank Arnold, who coached the Hawaii men's basketball team at the time.