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Crispus Attucks boy's basketball coach suspended

Posted at 5:08 PM, Jan 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-08 23:21:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The boys' basketball coach at Crispus Attucks has been suspended pending an investigation by the Indiana High School Athletic Association. 

Phil Washington has been the head boys' basketball coach for four years. 

According to Bobby Cox with IHSAA, Washington allowed two Anderson High School students to participate in summertime Crispus Attucks sport activities before they were enrolled at the school. 

Washington had applied for the coaching position at Anderson, but when he did not get it, the two players followed him, Cox said. 

"It rips you to the core. It rips your child to the core," Yolanda Wilkins said. 

Her son, Junior Zack Owens, is one of two student-athletes who transferred from Anderson. 

"The idea that a student would change schools for basketball purposes is unacceptable," Cox said. 

But Wilkins says that is not why her son transferred.

"We had a few issues at Anderson. We made the decision to come for academics," she said. 

But the Indiana Athletic High School Association says the move violated the undue influence rule. It bans adults affiliated in any way with the team from giving gifts or enticing student athletes to join certain teams.

But supporters of Washington believe that is not the case with the coach they still support.

"Look into the eyes of these kids, look into the hearts of the kids and tell me if you see rigging?" Wilkins said.

The players who transferred from Anderson to Crispus Attucks will not be able to play for 365 days, according to IHSAA. 

A spokesperson for Indianapolis Public Schools released a statement Friday afternoon about the investigation: 

“Mr. Washington was suspended from Crispus Attucks pending an internal investigation related to an IHSAA investigation. The district took this measure to ensure continued eligibility of our student athletes in the Crispus Attucks Boys’ Basketball program. IPS does not speak to the specifics of personnel matters, but can confirm Mr. Washington will continue to serve the students of IPS in another capacity.”

In a tweet to RTV6's Liz Adeola, Washington said, "I would like for you to talk to the parents first, then we will talk. I gave my life to that program and will fight for it." 

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