Next month, when kids take the field for Jackie Robinson West teams on opening day, they won’t be playing ball under the Little League banner, sources told DNAinfo.com.
Since being stripped of the Little League World Series U.S. Title amid a cheating scandal, leaders of the South Side youth baseball league have chartered 25 teams with the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth organization, taken down its website and stripped any sign of Little League affiliation from player recruitment posters and ballfields at Jackie Robinson Park.
In December, JRW officials filed all the required paperwork and paid the fees to be eligible to field teams for the 2015 season. But that was before Little League decided to strip the team of its title in February, a move that confirmed allegations first reported by DNAinfo.com Chicago that league officials cheated by knowingly putting players who lived outside league boundaries on the tournament team, against residency rules.
In addition to stripping the title, Little League International officials also put the JRW league on probation until president Anne Haley and her son, Bill Haley, who’s listed on tax documents as the league treasurer, were replaced.
Sources told DNAinfo.com that JRW's de facto leader, Bill Haley, has decided to leave Little League this season rather than step down.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for JRW said he was unaware of the decision and could not immediately comment.
In March, Little League disbanded District 4, which included JRW, and divided the district's six teams between two other districts. JRW was assigned to District 12, which includes neighborhoods on the West Side and Northwest Side.
District 12 Administrator Carlton Jones said he didn’t know JRW’s status for this season.
“Right now, all communication with JRW is supposed to go through the Central Region and Williamsport until they solve their differences and come into compliance with Little League’s decision,” Jones said.
Little League International spokesman Brian McClintock said in an email that “because Little League International has not been notified by the league of any change in Jackie Robinson West Little League’s affiliation, as of now, there is no change for the 2015 season.”
Some officials from JRW sister leagues in District 4 said they believe Haley’s application to charter JRW in Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth organizations aimed to keep him in control of the league and the more than $200,000 in donations the league received last year.
JRW spokesman Glenn Harston II told DNAinfo earlier this month that he was unaware if JRW teams would only compete in the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth leagues, but “anytime you throw that amount of money on the table, it definitely impacts things.”
According to the Little League charter agreement signed by JRW leaders, all funds and property acquired by a league “in the name of Little League” shall be “devoted solely and exclusively to Little League purposes.”
McClintock, the Little League International spokesman, declined to answer questions about whether Little League has the right to take control of money donated to JRW and property owned by the league, which has had a charter since 1971.
“The language in the charter agreement signed by the league president and the league vice president, treasurer, or secretary speaks for itself,” McClintock wrote in an email.
Haley did not return a call seeking comment.
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