As a result of having accepted $100 gift certificates at a tournament sponsored by the Nike Corporation, two top high school basketball players in Tennessee have been declared ineligible for 12 months by the state athletic association.
Lorenzen Wright, a senior from Memphis, and Ron Mercer, a junior from Madison, were among three dozen participants who received the certificates and an assortment of athletic wear at Nike's "Fab 40 shootout'' in Beaverton, Ore., in September.
Shortly after the event, several state chapters of the National Federation of State High School Associations questioned whether acceptance of the gift certificates violated their rules. (See Education Week, Oct.6, 1993.)
The two Tennessee students were the only students to be suspended for an entire season, according to Liz Dolan, a spokeswoman for Nike.
In Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, and Virginia, participants were suspended for from one to four games or barred from local tournaments. The remainder of the participants were not penalized, most on the condition that they return the merchandise they purchased with the certificates or the cash equivalent.
Mr. Wright and Mr. Mercer plan to appeal their suspensions before the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association this week, according to Bob Baldridge, the association's assistant executive director.
Vol. 13, Issue 09