A Carroll County judge will hear from both sides today in a running dispute between South Carroll High School basketball player Marshall Strickland and state public school officials who say he used up his eligibility to play high-school ball before his senior year began.
The executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association ruled Nov. 16 that Marshall Strickland, of Mount Airy, could not play in his senior year because he already has played four years of varsity basketball.
Strickland's attorney, MacKenzie A. Kantruss, appealed that decision Nov. 21 to State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. He also asked that the youth be allowed to play during the appeal process - a request that was denied in a Dec. 4 letter and triggered the lawsuit Wednesday against the state.
"The failure to allow Marshall Strickland to play basketball during the appeal process will cause irreparable harm to Marshall Strickland, as he will never have an opportunity to compete in or make up those games, as well as irreparable harm to his team," the lawsuit alleges.
Strickland was on the court Wednesday night - the result of an order signed hours earlier by Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway that the state allow him to play until a final decision is made. Such a temporary order can be granted by a judge who finds that one side in a dispute would suffer irreparable harm, while the other side would not be seriously affected.
Strickland scored 33 points and led the South Carroll Cavaliers to a 79-54 victory over the visiting Glenelg Gladiators.
After a temporary order is issued, a hearing usually is scheduled quickly for arguments by both sides - in which the plaintiff seeks to continue the order while the defendant seeks to dissolve it. Such a hearing is scheduled today in Westminster at 2 p.m. before Galloway.
Strickland's lawsuit names as defendants the Maryland State Board of Education, Grasmick and the MPSSAA. It claims that their interpretation of his eligibility is "erroneous" and he should be allowed to play during the appeal. It seeks no money damages other than court costs.
The state found that Strickland played one season at the Thayer (Mass.) Academy in the eighth grade and two seasons at the Winchendon School in Massachusetts before moving to Maryland. Strickland transferred to South Carroll a year ago from Hyattsville's DeMatha High School, where he played three games with the Stags.
Assistant Attorney General Valerie V. Cloutier, principal counsel for the Maryland State Department of Education, said their side would save its comments for the courtroom.
Strickland, a first-team All-Metro selection for the Cavaliers, is regarded as one of the top high school point guards in the country and already has an athletic scholarship to Indiana University next year.