Transfer Student Appealing Ineligibility Ruling at Novato High

Girls basketball standout Darrian Cross, one of the local league's top scorers and rebounders last season at Drake High in San Anselmo, is sitting out because of her pre-existing friendship with some Hornets players.

The Marin County Athletic League’s MVS — Most Valuable Statistician — was once again on top of her game Saturday night when the girls basketball team beat Vacaville to claim third place in the Rumble in the Jungle tournament at Bethel High in Vallejo.

The Hornets drove home with a 5-2 overall record in non-league play, an impressive mark when you consider some had expected their MVS at courtside to be their MVP at center court this season.

, an honorable mention all-leaguer last season at Drake High in San Anselmo, transferred to Novato for her senior year and had planned to join forces with a new Hornets coach, , and several young standouts upon which Knight hopes to build a successful hoops future.

But Cross hasn’t been allowed to play yet for the Hornets, even if nobody is willing definitively to say why.

“I was just told she couldn’t play,” Knight said.

Various Marin sources say Cross has been ruled ineligible by the North Coast Section. NCS Commissioner Gil Lemmon would not confirm the ineligibility, although he said he has been in contact with Novato’s principal and athletic director, one of whom presumably passed on the message to Knight.

Novato High Principal Rey Mayoral said his administrative team would follow all protocols and procedures in the matter.

"If we determine there was illegal and inappropriate recruiting, we will take a 'no tolerance' position," he said. "This student and her parents have due rights and will most likely appeal. Like in any case, there is a process in the MCAL and NCS bylaws that dictate how the process works."

The issue, according to those in-the-know, seems to revolve around Cross’ relationship with some of her new would-be teammates while playing last spring and summer for a Marin-based AAU team, Strictly Hoops, that was coached by College of Marin’s Tannea Nelson.

CIF rules prohibit transfers from one high school to another for sports purposes. One of the indicators when ruling on transfer eligibility in sports is the student’s relationship with her new school’s coach and teammates.

The Strictly Hoops program is run by Branson School coach Scott Davis. He saw Cross establish close relationships with girls on the AAU team, including some of the current Novato players.

“When I heard she was thinking of transferring to Novato, I told her mom (Cheryl) that there’s no way NCS would allow her to play,” Davis disclosed. “They went ahead and did it anyway.”

The Crosses would not make themselves available for comment, but sources say Cheryl and Darrian have either moved to Novato or established a residence there. Sources said they believed establishing residency in Novato would be enough to enable the senior star to play.

The Crosses are appealing the NCS decision to the CIF level. A decision is expected in early January.

Sources say Facebook postings on Cross’ wall from some of the Novato players were used by NCS as “evidence” to prove an illegal “influence of friends.”

Cross, a 5-foot-9 center, was one of the MCAL’s top scorers and rebounders last season, averaging 9.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Novato starts its MCAL schedule Jan. 3 at home against Tamalpais.

Roxanne Holbrook Fisher December 08, 2011 at 03:24 AM
This ruling is just plain wrong. I know this family well and they are good people. If the Cross' are living in Novato within the school district, I don't see how it is fair to make her ineligible. It is every citizins right to live where they see fit. How can the school district decide why she moved; that is going to far. I know lots of families that have had to move due to financial hardship and other personal matters. It seems unconstitutional to punish this star academic athlete for the hard decisions parents are having to make during this unstable times. This just isn't right.
Stacy December 08, 2011 at 04:58 AM
I completely agree with the comment above! This is ludicrous that this child is being punished and not allowed to participate in the high school she attends sports programs. If her grades are up to par and she lives in Novato why would the school district deliberately be excluding and punishing her? This is not professional sports for Gods sake this is high school! She is just a girl at a precarious age and the lessons the school is teaching her with these ridiculous rules because she excels at this sport could be detrimental to her future! This school district is making a terrible mistake and hurting this child I hope her parents fight this all the way to the top!!!
Scarlett December 08, 2011 at 05:11 AM
Mr. Del Grande, your facts are incorrect in this case. There are compelling reasons the family moved to Novato, none of which include basketball. There are no CIF rules against playing on AAU teams with players from other schools, it happens all the time and does not equal an "athletic motivation." Read the CIF rules. Darrian Cross is being unfairly denied eligibility, that is the real story here.
BJL December 08, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Just play her coach Knight! She has potential for college scholarships. The above three posts pretty much say it all. It seems NUSD can't even get out of its own way to let students be a stand out. I'm sure they will have to have a meeting and discuss it and waste more time and tax dollars. At a minimum, I hope she gets to practice with the team. Just play her coach Knight!
grantie December 08, 2011 at 04:20 PM
this is this child's future! Great athlete- great grades-great family. what is going on with the system to deny eligibility and take away something that means so much to a young, motivated woman.
steve December 08, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Knowing the family very well and having followed Darrians basketball playing since cyo days, it totally befuddles me as to the inability of the ncs to understand the reason why the family moved and to deny her the right to continue playing basketball. She has been friends with girls who play basketball from all around Marin County and sees them in the off season as well. Is this a violation of some form? Knowing a fellow player is quite normal, and because they had to move doesn't correlate with the concept that she did it for the sport, rather, it just happened. Let her play the sport she loves.
SBD December 08, 2011 at 06:31 PM
How does MC get a transfer from TL who's now playing on the MC girls varsity team - (so you can comprehend her abilities) WHILE her older sister is still playing for TL? Did the younger sister who's now a sophomore just decide one morning that she wants a Catholic education? How does the NCS let that fly and Darien has to sit and wait?
justafan December 08, 2011 at 06:54 PM
The school and/or district has to abide by the NCS ruling or face forfiture of their games in which Darian plays. They have no choice. If the CIF didn't have rules like this schools like Branson and Marin Catholic would run wild. The links to her teammates through AAU, if nothing else, gives the impression of impropriety. Another reason for kids to be careful with Facebook. The Cross' should have listened to Coach Davis. They seemed to have ignored his advice and .....well. Without all the facts, like why did they want Darian to transfer if it wasn't for basketball, no one can throw stones here. Too bad too, with the Novato program being on the way up with a new coach and a good crop of freshmen. Overall it's a good rule, if applied fairly. As far as the potential for Darian to play in college, that is more greatly influenced on her performance and exposure through her AAU program.......should have listened to Scott.
justafan December 08, 2011 at 07:24 PM
SBD- There are specific rules governing transfers after the freshman year. The rules are more relaxed in these cases, allowing transfers if someone really doesn't like the school they went to as a freshman. The rules are a little tougher for seniors. By the way cudos go out to the senior sister at TL. A marvelous athlete and young woman who is sticking with basketball at TL, on an extremely inexperienced and undermanned team, even though she has a scholarship to UCLA to play soccer. My hat goes off to her and her parents. Just conjecture on my part, but perhaps the scholarship for her sister opened up the opportunity for her parents to send her to MC with basketball only a minor consideration.
Alejandro Villalobos December 08, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Sounds like the NHS parents are pretty passionate about this. One bleeding heart says there are "compelling reasons?" Well, what are they? I'd like to know. Was there a house fire? Did her parents split and the girl moved in with a relative in Novato? Moving to Novato after the fact isn't proof of anything. It's covering your rear end. The Branson Coach told them this would happen but they went ahead and did it anyway. They didn't take him seriously. That's called arrogance. Rules are set in place for a reason. Darrian Cross isn't the first student athlete to try and work the system. As BJL said, "Just play her." There's a good idea. Play her so her team can forfeit every game she appears in. Smart. Bottom line; Facebook strikes again! Be careful what you put out there because you never know who is paying attention. She blew it. All the excuses in the world won't undo the fact that she made it clear that she wanted to play on a better team (BTW, while Novato is 5-2, Drake is 2-4). Cry foul all you want, the truth is, the NCS allows players to transfer (and still be eligible to play) up until the first day of their sophmore year. The rule was put in place for this very reason. Novato's Coach is either ignorant or part of the problem. My opinion is he got his hand caught in the cookie jar and when all is said and done, he should be dismissed. Remember this, scorekeeping is an important job too.
Scarlett December 08, 2011 at 10:48 PM
@AV I am not a bleeding heart, I am a person with detailed knowledge of this case. There are compelling reasons the family moved to Novato, none of which inlcude basketball. Those reasons will be communicated to the CIF. The only arrogant one here is the Branson coach with his "I told you so" attitude. Read the CIF bylaws. Transfers are allowed at any grade. The NHS coach has respected the ruling of the NCS commissioner-Darrian will not play unless she is eligible. Stop back-stabbing the Novato coach. Darrian Cross was unfairly denied eligibility, that is the real story here.
Worry December 08, 2011 at 10:54 PM
Alejandro.. in regards to your post.. you are a boob. It is obvious that you do not know the facts relating to Ms. Cross's case here. I don't assume to know all of them either. Felix Unger has a phrase that you should familiarize yourself with. I do agree with your Facebook comment though. Good day.
Anthony Blair December 09, 2011 at 12:57 AM
The NCS is very strict with school transfers. I played basketball for NHS my freshman year, and after that I transferred to SMHS because I had moved down the street from it. I had to fill out a bunch of papers, prove why I had moved, and even after all of that, was not able to play.
Leslie Hill Melodia December 09, 2011 at 01:28 AM
I bet the Drake coach is blocking the transfer because he doesn't want to get beat by his own player.
Anonymous December 09, 2011 at 05:15 AM
Alejandro, I would suggest to get your facts straight before you begin making bold accusations that happen to all be false. "Facebook posts"? The only thing those posts between friends proved was exactly that--that they were friends. Cross is friends with NUMEROUS basketball players in Marin County because she has been playing with them since 2nd grade. If she had gone to Redwood, Tamalpais, etc. the same exact false accusations of recruitment would have been made. Secondly, who are you to question Cross's reasoning for moving? That is a very private issue that her and her family have presented to the CIF along with valid reasoning and solid evidence. They moved because of a personal matter, not basketball. They were not being arrogant by moving and "not listening to the Branson coach", it was simply the best decision for their family situation. And you're talking about numbers and scorekeeping? Why would Cross want to transfer to a school that had ONLY THREE WINS over the course of both preseason and regular season last year? NHS's record this season has absolutely nothing to do with this matter. Many factors that this article incorrectly addressed or did not address at all are very important in this case.
ryan December 09, 2011 at 06:46 PM
I don't know when this transfer took place but if it was during the summer this should have been solved long ago. CIF has very specific rules regarding transfer from one school to another. I beleive Salesian basketball forfeited around 30 games last year for something simliar to this. I also feel opinions would be different if it was a Novato athlete transfering to another MCAL school. I think everyone needs to take a step back and let the process take care of it. If everything was on the up and up then NCS will allow the girl to play. If not she will keep score.
Nancy December 10, 2011 at 02:13 AM
My suggestion is that everyone just backs off and lets the process takes its course. This girl is an astounding athlete, and has worked for where she has gotten today. No one can get credit for making her the player that she has become except herself. This poll, and these comments are completely unnecessary. Nobody can say her reasons for changing schools were basketball motivated, because no one apart from herself, her family, and those involved in this case know the full story. Alejandro- Have some compassion, and don't be so quick to make assumptions. There is obviously a reason for her moving her senior year in high school, and to be quite honest, it is none of your business or concern. Unfortunately, you do not know Darian on a personal level therefore you can not describe her situation or motivations. If she wanted to play on a better team she would go play for Scott, the one that "knows her case so well", and "was just looking out for her". Everyone needs to leave this to the professionals and get over it. Put yourself in Darian and her mothers situation; How do you think they would feel reading these negative comments when they have everyone watching them already? Let it be. I hope this girl can play, because she has gone through too much just to play the sport she excels at and loves playing.
Alejandro Villalobos December 10, 2011 at 07:55 PM
NHS Girls basketball and Darrian are fortunate that you people are not representing them in a court of law because you've failed miserably to prove your points. Resorting to name calling simply because I oppose your way of thinking is childish to say the least. I keep reading there is a "compelling" or "very personal reason" why she transfered. That is the same as saying, "I have a very good reason but I'm not going to tell you." If that's all there is to it then let the paperwork process begin, by all means. No wonder the NCS turned them down. Either they would not elaborate or it wasn't a very good reason at all. I'll say it again, the NCS agrees with me on this. I would expect the posters on this board to defend the Cross' and why not? Darrian will help your team win. That's what it's really all about anyway. It's not about a girl that just wants to play ball with her buddies. If it were that simple the MCAL would have a large group of free agents moving from school to school every year because everybody wants to be a winner. Here's an idea: Darrian returns to Drake and they let her play for the Pirates as long as everyone signs off on it. Oh, I know they aren't as good as Novato but, it could be a chance to play. The really sad thing about all this is that this girl was victimized by a very poor decision that tried to beat the system. She's already missed seven games of the season. In other words, she's already lost.
Annoymous December 11, 2011 at 02:45 AM
I just don't see how a girl who has been playing basketball her whole life, has probably played with most the girl's varsity players on almost every Marin County school team; has to be punished for moving into another city because of personal reasons... It is by far the stupidest thing I've heard! She is NOT "covering her rear end" and "working the system" she's playing the game she knows and loves and just because of some family issues her privilege of playing is being striped away! Rules are rules but she is not by any means breaking the rules, nor trying to play for a better team. I don't know what facts you, Alejandro, have but you are clearly mistaken and have way too much time on your hands in order to comment to bring this teenage girl down... All I'm saying is that there is no proof the Darrian wanted to go to a better team and you OBVIOUSLY have no idea what is going on with her.
Geöff Elsmar December 12, 2011 at 08:57 AM
This family's decision to move and transfer to NHS may not be known to us, but they were informed of the unlikeliness of Darrian being able to play ball for NHS and moved nonetheless. This tells a casual observer with some common sense (but apparently not the peanut gallery) that there were other motives for the move. It is certainly not about a "girl wanting to play ball with her buddies"-one thing you got right. The way you tell it, Darrian has psychic powers as well as ball skills.  How else could she have known (last year) that the season would go the way it is for NHS? For the record, I don't know the student in any way, have never played basketball on a public school team, and I graduated from San Marin, NHS' rival. So there's an unbiased opinion if there ever was one. I wrote this response to state how appalled I am that someone, presumably an adult, would make such accusations about the motives and actions of the player and her family. A 17 y/o girl is fragile enough without hurtful public comments from people with too much time on their hands.  Don't you have some neighbors to spy on?  Good day.
Geöff Elsmar December 12, 2011 at 08:59 AM
Just can it with your arrogant jabs at the other posters - some of them obviously have detailed information of the situation that the peanut gallery (you) does not.  Yes, the "personal reason" as it is called here is the same as "I'm not going to tell you" in this sitution because these other posters seem to be showing some respect for the privacy of the student in question...and they probably just don't want to tell YOU anything.  This may be beyond your realm of understanding, but the details are none of your business, or anyone else's for that matter - this is for the NCS to evaluate and rule on.   This isn't the NBA. There aren't multi-million dollar contracts for players and all the coercion that naturally comes with that business-we are talking about a HIGH SCHOOL student-a seventeen year old. Think carefully before you insinuate anything to the contrary-it is laughable to hear you suggest coercion in any way, as if a high school basketball coach has the financial means or the motive to tempt a player from one school to another! 
Christine December 12, 2011 at 08:58 PM
To all of you naysayers, when you learn of the reason this young woman and her mother moved to Novato, you'll be ashamed of yourselves. The appeal is scheduled, let the process take its course and please, stop torturing this 17 year old girl.
Christine December 12, 2011 at 09:55 PM
@ Roxanne & Stacy, I agree that Darrian should be able to play for her local school. Just to clarify, the school district doesn't get a vote in this, the decision is made by MCAL/NCS.
Christine December 28, 2011 at 08:01 PM
I was thrilled to read in the December 24th edition of the IJ that Darrian Cross is now eligible to play basketball during her senior year in high school. Congratulations Darrian and Mrs. Cross - the truth prevailed. And to Coach Knight, you are a man of integrity - somebody owes you an apology!
Christine December 28, 2011 at 08:02 PM
And, Darrian's first shot was a 3 pointer! Good for her!!


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