DOWNTOWN — The former coach of the embattled Jackie Robinson West Little League team, stripped of its U.S. championship amid evidence of using players from outside its legal recruiting area, said he is proud of the boys.
The coach, Darold Butler, who was suspended by Little League International, spoke briefly to reporters Wednesday night but did not directly address the national organization's decision and findings.
"The boys did what they're supposed to do. Everybody did what they're supposed to do," Butler said. I'm a proud guy, a proud coach. I love them," said Butler, whose son played on the Little League team. "I enjoyed being around them. I was proud to coach a group of guys like this."
Butler was found by Little League of manipulating residency maps to recruit players improperly. Also suspended was Illinois District 4 administrator Michael Kelley. JRW president Anne Haley and treasurer Bill Haley are being replaced under orders of Little League.
In its statement, Little League International said "as painful as this is, we feel it is a necessary decision to maintain the integrity of the Little League program."
"No team can be allowed to attempt to strenthen its team by putting players on their roster that live outside their boundaries," the statement said.
In an interview with DNAinfo Chicago in December, Butler responded to charges of cheating lodged by Evergreen Park Athletic Association vice president Chris Janes.
"Maybe they've seen us on TV too much, and maybe they're sick of us. It's part of what happens when good things are happening," Butler said.
He insisted at the time, "Nothing was done that should not have been done. It sounds like there's a little hate going on and that comes with the territory."
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