OHSAA decides phenom can play

Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 1:19 a.m.

CLEVELAND - LeBron James dunks like an NBA player, and drives like one, too.

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LeBron James toys with his remote-control Hummer before the St. Vincent-St. Mary's game against Mentor at the University of Akron's James A. Rhodes Arena, Jan. 14, in Akron, Ohio.

(AP Photo)

But he's still not a professional.

The nation's top high school basketball player was cleared Monday after a two-week investigation determined he did not violate state amateur bylaws by accepting a sports utility vehicle as a gift.

Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Clair Muscaro decided James did not compromise his amateur status and that his mother, Gloria, had provided proof she bought him the Hummer H2 vehicle.

``I was satisfied with the documentation that we were given,'' Muscaro said.

Muscaro had been gathering information and financial proof to determine how James, a senior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, had obtained the automobile, which has a base retail price of $50,000.

Gloria James said she took out a bank loan in Columbus to buy the SUV - shipped from California and outfitted with three TVs and computer game hookups - for her son's 18th birthday and provided evidence to the OHSAA.

Muscaro's concern was that James had accepted the SUV from an agent or outside source and had violated an OHSAA bylaw that states amateur status is forfeited if an athlete capitalizes on athletic fame by receiving money or gifts of monetary value.

Muscaro was shown the business records from the bank and dealership and was satisfied that the financing and acquisition of the vehicle were acquired by James' mother alone.

``I'm not in position to question bank officials,'' Muscaro said. ``That infringes on confidentiality with a client. I am satisfied that the loan that was granted did not violate our guidelines and was acquired only by his mother.''

Muscaro said no violations of the OHSAA amateur bylaws ``as currently written'' were found and that James, expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, is still eligible to play.

With the investigation over, James can now concentrate on the remainder of his final season with the Fighting Irish (14-0).

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