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Sudanese Athletes Can Play Basketball At Mooseheart, IHSA Rules

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Sudan natives (left to right) Wal Khat, Mangisto Deng, Makur Puou, and Akim Nyang transferred to Moosehart, a boarding school in Batavia last year. (Credit: Mooseheart)

Sudan natives (left to right) Wal Khat, Mangisto Deng, Makur Puou, and Akim Nyang transferred to Moosehart, a boarding school in Batavia last year. (Credit: Mooseheart)

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(CBS) – Illinois high school regulators ruled Monday that three Sudanese athletes can continue playing basketball at Mooseheart High School.

The three young men, and a fourth teen from Sudan, transferred to Mooseheart — a boarding school for troubled youth in Batavia — last year. The IHSA ruled the four boys were ineligible to play high school sports last week after opposing teams argued the Sudanese boys were recruited specifically for their athletic prowess, which would be a violation of IHSA rules.

Initially, the school was told basketball players Akim Nyang, Makur Puou, Mangisto Deng and cross-country runner Wal Khat would fulfill IHSA transfer requirements by sitting out last season.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty Reports

IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman says he has no problem with the board overturning his earlier decision to exclude the athletes from competition, saying the students were persuasive as they described their backgrounds in the Sudan.

“Three of the four boys really never even played basketball until they came to America,” Mooseheart Executive Director Scott Hart said.

The IHSA board, which met in downstate Bloomington, also put Mooseheart on probation until the school reviews its compliance of recruiting rules, something they were accused of violating.

Board President Dan Klett says the Batavia school should be able to complete the work in time to be eligible for the state playoffs.

The board warned other schools not to take referrals from A Hope – the foundation that brought the Sudanese teens here – saying it would make them ineligible.

“The majority of what Mooseheart wants to do is right along with their mission statement of helping young men. Our concern is the oversight they use with the organizations where they choose to get students from,” Klett said.

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