Player Infraction Loses Team State Championship
Lohud.com, Josh Thomson
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.—Few athletes in Section 1’s senior class boast a beefier résumé than Lance McDowdell.
The first-team all-state lineman at Mount Vernon High School also earned MVP honors in each of the last two Class D sectional boys basketball tournaments.
Still, tournament officials were apparently unaware of McDowdell’s two-sport prowess until shortly after he’d led his basketball team to another championship on Friday.
Section 1 has since investigated McDowdell’s status and announced Sunday that it has stripped Biondi of its victory.
Section 1 “missed” that the 6-foot-5, 275-pound McDowdell played sports for two different schools in the same school year, according to Section 1 executive director Jennifer Simmons.
“It’s a state rule. They missed it — our schools missed it — and it’s unfortunate,” Simmons said. “Obviously, (Biondi is) devastated.”
The runner-up, Greenburgh Academy, has been declared the sectional champion and is scheduled to meet Section 9 champ Livingston Manor Tuesday afternoon in the Class D regional semifinals at the Westchester County Center. Biondi appealed the decision and has scheduled a hearing with Section 1 for 8:30 this morning.
Regardless of the outcome, Simmons said the section will not strip Biondi of last year’s championship even though McDowdell, then a junior, was an all-section football player at Mount Vernon in the fall and Class D basketball tournament MVP at Biondi the following season.
“I’m not going backward,” Simmons said. “I’m moving forward. We didn’t know it had occurred last year, either, so at this point, I’m not going backward.”
“We didn’t do anything that we deemed as shady or illegal,” Biondi coach Bob Delle Bovi said. “You’re talking about a high-profile kid. He was on the floor at the County Center last year and received the MVP award. Nobody knew about him?”
McDowdell’s two-school, two-sport arrangement became prominent after last winter’s MVP performance. He attends Biondi in Yonkers because of academic programs offered by the school, which does not have a football team. Mount Vernon, his home district, filed paperwork with the section in 2010 in order for McDowdell to play football, and administrators and coaches knew he played basketball for Biondi.
Hours after Biondi’s 69-59 win over Greenburgh Friday afternoon, Section 1 boys basketball chairman Roman Catalino said he was unaware of who first questioned McDowdell’s eligibility.
The big man missed just four of Biondi’s 18 games, one coming against Greenburgh Academy.
“I don’t even know how it came up now,” Delle Bovi said. “Nobody said anything when we lost 14 games.”