James' new ride may have broken state rulesPosted: Monday January 13, 2003 6:10 PM
Updated: Monday January 13, 2003 8:40 PM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- State high school officials are investigating whether LeBron James broke any eligibility rules with his new car.
James, expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft if he goes pro, has been driving a Hummer H2 that he reportedly got as an 18th birthday gift from his mother, Gloria.
Clair Muscaro, commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, said Monday he was awaiting a return phone call from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School principal Dave Rathz to discuss the case.
OHSAA spokesman Bob Goldring said Muscaro requested a detailed written report on how the car was obtained.
The Hummer has a base retail price of $49,190.
Muscaro wants to know who bought the vehicle for James, and make sure the purchase didn't violate an OHSAA bylaw that says an athlete forfeits his or her amateur status by "capitalizing on athletic fame by receiving money or gifts of monetary value."
Rathz was in a meeting and did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
The school released a statement Monday evening saying it had been contacted by Muscaro's office and that the administration "will cooperate fully and has asked for a thorough and prompt resolution."
In addition, the school said the association emphasized that the investigation is focused on James' amateur status, not whether St. Vincent-St. Mary or its coaches or staff have violated regulations.
If it is proved that James broke a rule, Muscaro said the two-time Mr. Ohio would be stripped of his amateur status.
"If there is any chance that it was provided by an agent, he would immediately lose his eligibility, and as far as we're concerned, that would be when he accepted the car," Muscaro said. "Once a player loses his amateur status, if he plays after that, his team would have to forfeit those games."
Gloria James obtained a bank loan to pay for the vehicle and did nothing to compromise her son's eligibility, sources close to the team told The Plain Dealer.
The newspaper, quoting anonymous sources, said the silver/platinum SUV was shipped from California and contains three televisions and a hookup for computer games.
Gloria James and her son's coach, Dru Joyce, declined to comment Sunday after James scored 30 points to help No. 1 St. Vincent-St. Mary beat Detroit Redford 76-41.