In the past week Brent Schrotenboer of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE has uncovered an almost incomprehensible scandal involving athletes at an evangelical high school in San Diego.
6-8 Maranatha Christian star Chen Cai, who moved to the U.S. four years ago primarily to play basketball, averaged 26 points and 17 rebounds last year at the school as a junior. But following the season, the San Diego Section of the California Interscholastic League hired a private investigator to look into claims that Cai was receiving illegal benefits from two sports marketing agents.
The report says Terry Rhoads and Frank Sha, former Nike employees who helped bring Yao from China to the NBA, “spent more than $30,000 on this kid (Chen), not to mention paying his living bills, paying the training, paying the parents to come to the U.S. three times.”
Meanwhile, according to the report, documents in Chen’s Maranatha file said a 2007 form indicated that $7,000 in tuition was received “from unknown sources.” Later Lydia Clark said she witnessed Chen’s mother, who does not speak English, handle “wads of cash” according to the report.
Clark is a teacher at the school and wife of former San Diego Padre Jerald Clark - who Cai has lived with the past three years.
Also implicated in the wide-ranging scandal is the coach of the team, Rle Nichols.
The report said Nichols was looking for a job in 2005-06 and told an official at La Jolla Country Day School that if he were hired, he would “bring a big 6-8 Chinese kid with him.” La Jolla Country Day confirmed this, according to the report. An official at Country Day declined comment.
Nichols reportedly worked intimately with the two marketers to place Cai at the San Diego school, and allegedly executed an earlier, similar deal as coach of NBA player Yao Ming. (It’ll come as no surprise that investigators also think Cai is 20, not 17.)
The fallout of the P.I. report is massive. Marantha Christian has already declared Cai ineligible for his senior year and offered to forfeit all of the school’s victories the past three seasons in which Cai played.
Schrotenboer’s first break on this story is bad enough, but his followup about the school’s improper activities is a nuclear bomb. Read more…