CNJ file photo J.D. Isler was in his ninth season coaching the Wildcats.
By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
Clovis High School boys basketball coach J.D. Isler has been suspended for the remainder of the school year by the New Mexico Activities Association.
Clovis Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said her office has received a letter from the NMAA, the governing body of New Mexico high school sports, with the ruling that Isler has caused “undue influence” on players — recruiting, for short, she said.
Isler is in his ninth season as Wildcats head coach.
Assistant Scott Robinson has agreed to coach the Wildcats for the remainder of the season.
The school and Isler have two weeks to appeal the ruling. Seidenwurm said the school is still making its decision and did not want to speak for Isler.
Isler, who is 169-59 at Clovis, said his legal counsel has informed him to not comment on the matter.
Seidenwurm said the letter from NMAA did not mention specific players. District spokesperson Penny Bailey said the district has not been notified of any ineligible players on the Clovis roster.
Robert Zayas, assistant director of the NMAA, said it is the organization’s policy to not comment on investigations and refer media requests to the respective schools.
Clovis High Athletic Director Brian Stacy said the matter was investigated for two weeks. The NMAA’s ruling did not point to a particular offense, and Stacy said the organization normally handles similar matters with blanket statements.
Bailey said no blame for Isler’s suspension has been adjudicated to any current or former Clovis player, and any Wildcat currently ineligible will be eligible at the end of January.
Clovis is 3-2 this season, with one loss by forfeit. The Wildcats had to forfeit a 72-28 season-opening win over Portales because Deven Crockett, who had six points and three rebounds, was later ruled ineligible for not meeting transfer requirements.
Stacy said he neglected to consider Crockett as a transfer because he lived in Clovis as a freshman, moved to Texas for a year and moved to the same house in Clovis for his junior season. Transfers are required to sit out the first 90 days of school to be eligible.
Crockett is eligible to rejoin the team Friday at Plainview.
Junior Lathan Lieb, who transferred from Dora this year, has not played a game yet while Clovis was waiting on a ruling regarding his eligibility from the NMAA.
Lieb, who was at Rock Staubus Gymnasium on Thursday in preparation for a junior varsity game, said he knows his transfer from Dora has been questioned. Lieb has not played a varsity game.
“I’ve very disappointed in everything that’s happened,” Lieb said. “People need to know the truth before they start talking and hurting people.
“(Isler) didn’t recruit me. I was not recruited. I gave (the NMAA) evidence (I wasn’t recruited).”
Robinson, in his third year as varsity assistant, said the team found out about Isler’s suspension Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s a difficult circumstance for them to have to deal with,” Robinson said. “These are good kids with good heart and good character. We’re going to rally around this and make something positive of it.”
Isler’s status as a teacher is unchanged, Seidenwurm said, and he will receive a pro-rated portion of the $4,000 stipend for his work so far this season. Isler is two wins shy of his 500th career victory.