Mayo investigation could affect Ironton’s state runner-up status

Published 1:05 am Monday, January 4, 2010

In one of the best state championship games in Ohio High School Athletic Association history, the Ironton Fighting Tigers nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 2004-05 title game.

Ironton just missed winning the state title to North College Hill who had loaded up with the likes of O.J. Mayo, Bill Walker and Keenan Ellis. Ironton had a chance to win in the final seconds before losing 71-65.

Instead, Ironton had to settle for a state runner-up. Or did they.

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In light of the recent allegations regarding Mayo, the OHSAA is investigating the possibility of stripping North College Hill of its state titles.

OHSAA bylaws state that eligibility concerns must be brought about within 42 days of the completion of the state tournament. But OHSAA assistant commissioner Bob Goldring said other bylaws could come into play such as matter concerning amateur status.

If Mayo accepted money in high school it would take way his amateur standing. The bylaw states an athlete forfeits eligibility if he or she “capitalizes on his/her athletic fame by accepting money, merchandise or services of value based in whole or in part upon the notoriety the athlete received through his/her athletic skills and achievements.”

An ESPN story on Sunday said Mayo associate Louis Johnson suggested that Mayo violated OHSAA and NCAA amateurism rules by accepting $30,000 worth of gifts from a rogue agent, Rodney Guillory.

Mayo — who is now with Memphis in the NBA — played at Southern California last season and was at Huntington (W.Va.) High the previous year. He attended North College High the previous three years.

According to the Goldring, Mayo could be penalized if he received money and/or gifts from a street agent during the past four years.

Southern Cal has imposed its own sanctions. The Trojans will forfeit their 21 wins and the money they received from playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Ironton could be awarded a state title or remain the runner-up. Either way, don’t expect a quick resolution.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.