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Bishop Ford suspends athletic officials amid investigation

Bishop Ford’s coach Toro, ADs suspended

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Bishop Ford athletic directors Pete Goyco and Eileen Egan and head girls basketball coach Mike Toro have been suspended as the school investigates possible improper financial assistance to members of the girls basketball team, the school announced in a statement last Wednesday.

Bishop Ford spokesperson Eileen Long Chelales refused to go into details about the possible violations or discuss how the school found out about them. She did state that Ford informed Brooklyn-Queens league president Denise Hillig about the possible violation of league rules on Sunday. No timetable has been set for when the school would see the issue resolved.

“[The school] is going to do a thorough review and investigat­ion,” Chelales said.

Ford will also review the entire athletic department, according to the statement. Goyco, Egan, and Toro did not return phone messages by deadline.

Chelales said the school has not determined whether the violations are recruiting related, but is looking into it.

The constitution of the Catholic High School Activities Association states there shall be no “professional recruiting of elementary school athletes,” which means, according to the document, anyone working for a school, paid or unpaid, cannot offer any financial inducement to a student or his or her parents or legal guardians “in order to secure that student for that school for the purpose of playing in the school’s athletic program.”

Principal Sam Sued and assistant principal Joseph Dugan informed the players of the suspensions on Wednesday, according to Chelales.

Assistant coaches Mary Gillespie and Eric Davis will lead the team in Toro’s absence. Gillespie declined comment on the situation saying, “my focus right now is on the team and the girls.”

The Falcons will also be without junior guard Aaliyah Jones, who was suspended for two league games because of a fight with Nazareth guard Bianca Cuevas.

The news left parents like Jones’s father Rick with unanswered questions. He said his daughter did not receive any improper financial assistance. He and others are still trying to sort everything out as their daughters try to make a run at a New York State Federation title.

“I really don’t know what’s going on,” Rick Jones said. “There are just pieces I’m hearing. I don’t even know who is coaching.”

The shaken Lady Falcons lost their first-place tiebreaker game against Archbishop Molloy last Thursday at St. Francis Prep 52–49. Ford was up 20 in the third quarter but was outscored 22–4 in the fourth. Molly is now the top-seed in the diocesan tournament, which began on Tuesday.

Bishop Ford has been one of the top teams on the East Coast since Toro took over four years ago. The Falcons have recorded wins over league powers Christ the King and Nazareth and multiple victories over nationally ranked clubs, including Riverdale-Baptist (Md.) this season. Last year the team lost to Christ the King in its first-ever Division I diocesan title game.

Ford has sent five players on athletic scholarships to Division I school’s during Toro’s tenure, including St. John’s bound senior guard Aaliyah Lewis.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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