Ex-Meade girls coach gets 2-year suspension

Ineligible player prompts ban from Anne Arundel Co.

High Schools

January 13, 2000|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Former Meade girls basketball coach Phil Popielski has been suspended from coaching in Anne Arundel County for two years after it was determined that one of his former players does not legally reside in the Meade school district, sources said yesterday.

Popielski resigned Dec. 23 after receiving a five-game suspension from Meade officials for his conduct that resulted in his ejection from a game against Southern-Anne Arundel on Dec. 21. He cited family issues for stepping down.

Senior forward LaTanya Eldridge, a four-year player and three-year starter under Popielski, was declared ineligible and suspended 60 days (rest of the season) by the Anne Arundel County Board of Arbitration at a hearing Jan. 6, and the team has to forfeit all the games in which she played over the past four years. Meade averaged 22 wins the past three seasons.

Popielski, who was in his sixth season, was suspended by the same seven-member arbitration panel after it met Jan. 6, the sources said.

"The only comment I am going to give you is that it has not been brought to my attention," said Popielski, who is currently a volunteer assistant with the UMBC women's team. "I have not seen anything or heard anything."

Popielski's 1995-96 team had to forfeit 11 games because one of his players lived outside the Meade district. Eldridge has been living in the Meade district all four years of high school, but with her grandparents, who are not her legal custodians.

Anne Arundel County requires its students to live with their parents or legal custodians in the district of the school they attend unless they are 18 and self-supporting.

Eldridge's parents, Clyde and Velma Eldridge, are appealing their daughter's suspension and have retained Glen Burnie attorney Mark Darden.

Under the Anne Arundel County public schools athletic regulations, one of the responsibilities of coaches is to "file and verify" with the athletic director a county participation form declaring legal residency.

Sun staff writer Glenn P. Graham contributed to this article.

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